Written by W. Karda (W_Karda@yahoo.com) with editorial assistance by KB
The story continues from yesterday’s analysis of the economic invasion with an in-depth look at the cultural and political invasions happening in tandem with the economic one.
While the ‘economic invasion’ seems to be the core of many reports and articles, Turkish control goes beyond simply building shopping malls and kebab shops. Perhaps one of the more insidious and threatening issues that has accompanied the earlier mentioned topic is the ‘cultural invasion’ that is spreading like wildfire throughout the Kurdish population in South Kurdistan.
Today local channels in the Kurdistan region show several Turkish songs for each local or western one. They present Turkish soap operas and series, even ‘Valley Of The Wolves’ (Kurtlar Vadisi), which is basically about a Turkish superhero agent, a combination of Rambo and 007, coming to Iraq on a mission against the Americans. The Kurds are portrayed as backwards or as terrorists in these shows, but they are still watched by the locals with great enthusiasm.
As a part of this issue, the Turks seem to have concentrated their efforts on the education system in Kurdistan. Last December, the Turkish National Education Minister Nimet Çubukçu attended an international conference on higher education in Erbil; supposedly to improve education in the region. Her ministry stated that ‘Ankara attaches high importance to Iraq’s initiatives in the education field.’ Çubukçu met several Iraqi officials at the Turkish Consulate General in Erbil, then she visited the Turkish Cihan and Fezalar Universities, built in Erbil by Turkish companies, and afterwards visited several Turkmen schools.   
But the genuineness of such ‘help’ from the Turks is questionable. This is all the more apparent if one exams the oppression of the Kurds in Turkey. Restrictions on the Kurdish language prohibit its use in public education, Kurdish TV channels and publications in Kurdish are banned or forced to close down, and Kurdish is not allowed in parliament or in the courts.
Riding the coattails of this cultural invasion is the spread of the Turkish language. The fact is that within a couple of years Turkish could easily replace Arabic, which is used as a second language in Kurdistan. One reason for this is that many businesses are controlled by Turks. Kurdish youth realise they are pretty much obliged to learn Turkish so that they may have better a chance of getting a job and communicating with the Turkish management at these companies.
This linguistic Turkification phenomenon can be dated back to 1993, with the establishment of the first Turkish school in Kurdistan. That first school was Işık College in Erbil, and it was followed by the opening of Nilüfer College in 1994, Işık Primary School in 2005, and Işık Kindergarten in 2006. Işık University was opened in 2008 in Erbil. The Gülen website says about these schools that what ‘makes us so happy is that each and every one of these kids grows up as lovers of Turkey and the Turkish people.’ 
Today there are about 15 of these Turkish schools in Kurdistan, with an enrolment of over 5,000. They are, to a certain extent, propaganda machines used to brainwash Kurdish youth and teach them from a very young age the ‘greatness’ of Turkish ‘superiority.’ One student explained that the schools are there for ‘nothing more than teaching naïve pupils in southern Kurdistan how great Turkey, the Ottoman and the Turkish people are.’ 
Another Turkish school is slated to open in the Kurdish town of Halabja in which education will be in English, Arabic and Turkish languages, but unsurprisingly, not in Kurdish. 
Why do the local KRG authorities tolerate and even support such so called ‘schools?’ While the whole region had one hour of electricity in the 1990s, the Turkish schools had 24 hours of electricity. They were given the best buildings and the best services. Even Nechirvan Barzani himself, the then Prime Minister of Kurdistan, attended the inauguration ceremony of the Turkish university, while neither he nor any other high-ranking officials attended the opening of any of the other university in the region, not even the American University of Iraq-Suleimaniya (AUI-S). And, of course, a Turkish firm is building the new AUI-S campus. 
The Gülen organisation has openly supported the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the ruling party in present-day Turkey. It is a highly religious movement, believing in the theories of the most influential Islamic thinker in Turkish Republican history, Said-i-Nursi, who was a Kurd. Hence, they are using the religious background in an attempt to turn the Kurds into state puppets.
‘The AKP and Gülen share a common vision of how to solve the Kurdish problem,’ says Hakan Tahmaz, the author of a book on the Kurds. ‘Both use the rhetoric of a Golden Age at the time of the Ottoman Empire, when Turks and Kurds were united by their Muslim faith.’
The Gülen movement has ties to various Turkish media outlets including the newspaper Zaman and the TV channel Samanyolu TV. Until 2006, Zaman used euphemisms such as ‘eastern tribes’ to refer to the Kurds. Samanyolu TV airs programmes such as Tel Türkiye (One Turkey), which reflect a similar position. Liberal Islamist intellectual Serdar Yilmaz compared Tel Türkiye to the modernist ideology of the early Republic. ‘It doesn’t ask why villagers are sceptical of the newcomer, or why they support the PKK. It presents them as imbeciles who can only be sorted out by an enlightened westerner,’ he said.
The fundamental aim of the Gülen Movement and its schools, Yilmaz adds, is to create ‘moral, obedient citizens.’ Hence their interest in the Kurds. ‘For them, the Kurds are the [Turkish] Republic’s naughty children who need to be taught proper manners.’ 
With this knowledge, why do the Kurds in the South, and especially the elites, allow their children to be taught by the Turks when they think that Kurdish should be annihilated? When speaking it is enough to be labelled a ‘terrorist’? When members of parliament turn on their colleagues for using it? When it is still considered a ‘non-existent’ or ‘unknown’ language? When towns and villages and even animals names have been changed? When Kurdish letters of the alphabet are banned? When Kurdish channels and publications run the risk of closure and Kurdish writers and journalists are put behind bars for hundreds of years?
As a rightfully worried writer stated: ‘What’s bad is to fill Kurdistan with only one type of investment…Turkish. For a day to come in which [the Turks] seize what is behind and in front of the Kurds, for a time to come in which our children forget how to say kaka and replace it with kardeş. Hence, we will lose the whole of Kurdistan not just Kirkuk…It seems like this excessive “goodwill” from the Kurds will become a nightmare for eternity…The balance must be restored to its natural condition before Kurds become strangers in their own Kurdistan.’ 
While it seems like Turkey has been able to completely integrate the Kurdistan region through economic and cultural means, its influence politically is no less dominant, and it has also been able to direct much of the political machinations in the cities which lie outside the borders of Kurdistan region, namely Kirkuk and Mosul, hence completing its dominance over the region once called Mosul Vilayet.
In a recent article ‘Ankara’s Neo-Ottoman Policy’ the author also questioned Turkey’s involvement in Kirkuk. ‘Is the present dispute over Kirkuk between the Iraqi Kurds, Arabs and Turkmans or between the Iraqi Kurds and Ankara? While Ankara tells Iraqis that they “cannot impose a solution on the others [Turkmans],” it turns around and dictates its own solution on them by calling for a special status for Kirkuk in order to empower its Turkman proxies in Iraq.’ 
Turkey’s role in Kirkuk and its influence on the decisions of political issues in the city were explained earlier, but what is also worth noting is that in 2003, the previous Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yaşar Yakış stated that Turkey wants a representative of its own in the Iraqi government that will be established after the fall of Saddam Hussein. ‘Because we know the people involved better than anyone and we can stop the Americans from making mistakes,’ Yakış explained. 
In fact Turkey already had a representative in Iraq, namely the ITF (Iraqi Turkmen Front), a Turkish political puppet-party that was founded by the Turkish army in 1995 with all its usual anti-Kurdish slogans and decisions made and refined in Ankara but publicised and implemented in Iraq.   
And through its influence, Turkey with its puppets has played significant roles in delaying the national census and Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution. They also have increased tensions amongst the ethnic groups of the city who had previously coexisted peacefully for centuries.
Turkey is also heavily supporting the anti-Kurdish Al-Hadba party in Mosul in various ways. For instance, Turkey is working on opening a satellite TV channel for al-Hadba. As one politician clarified: ‘Since 2003 and the fall of Saddam Hussein, Turkey has worked effectively to organise nationalist Arabs in Mosul with the aim of using them against Kurdish power in the province; moreover, Turkey also seeks to control the province’s economy, which has been very successful.’
This politician also mentioned that most of the support for al-Hadba comes from the Turkish consulate in Mosul, which Turkey opened after 2003. ‘Until recently, Turkey’s only consulate in all Iraq was in Mosul city…the Turkish consul in Mosul is the true governor of Mosul.’
Turkey’s support for al-Hadba was also mentioned in the WikiLeaks cables. An April 2009 cable noted that Turkey ‘played an unhelpful role in recent Iraqi provincial elections through its clandestine financial support of the anti-Kurdish al-Hadba Gathering.’ 
It is also worth noting that today there are 13 permanent Turkish military bases as well as 3,235 Turkish officers, spies and gendarmerie inside KRG territory, with all sorts of military equipment ranging from BKC guns to armoured vehicles and tanks. These bases were established in early 1990s to carry out military activities, intelligence gathering and spying and they still seem to function and operate their anti-Kurdish agendas from inside Kurdistan. 
In late December 2010, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan denied the existence of Kurdish nationality and language in his country when he said, ‘[t]here is one and only one language in this country and this is Turkish. There is one and only one nationality and this is the Turkish nationality. There is one and only one flag and this is the Turkish flag.’
This is the kind of rhetoric that has dominated Turkish-nationalist discourse since independence. As a result, massacres, genocides and total annihilation have been the only policy the Turks have utilised against the Kurds. As such, one must wonder why the KRG greets such Turkish invasions with open arms, and whether the Turkish stance will be any less-nationalistic, chauvinist and fascist towards Kurds across the border.
There are nationalist slogans posted as you enter the cities of Diyarbakır and Van such as ‘Happy is he who calls himself a Turk’ or ‘Be proud of being a Turk!’ It is not impossible to envision the day when upon entering Suleimaniya and Erbil visitors may be greeted with signs like ‘A Turk equals the universe’ or ‘A Turk among humans is like a lion among animals!’
In all regards, it almost seems like total dominance by the Turks in the Kurdistan region is imminent. The census and Article 140 have been delayed repeatedly because of Turkish interference in Iraqi internal politics. Turkmen (ITF) have been used against the Kurds in Kirkuk. And in Mosul, Turkish influence seems to be on the rise. A local politician remarked how he occasionally heard from Arab sheikhs close to al-Hadba praising the Ottoman Empire and remarking that ‘Mosul had a golden time when it was under the Ottoman Empire,’ and ‘they don’t mind if Mosul is again controlled by Turkey.’ 
Aydın Selcen, Turkey’s General Consul in Erbil, has said: ‘Turks and Kurds have lived together for a thousand years, and they created a common culture and a common heritage together. Their past is common and their future is also in common…we have many things in common. Our frontier is common, but also our past, our cultural heritage and even our DNA is common.’ He also pointed out there is a common language between the two nations. 
This, of course, is absurd. It seems as though they are once again trotting out the old Turkish myths about ‘brotherly coexistence.’ And how can the ancient Hurro-Median history of the Kurds have commonalities with the more contemporary history of the Turks of a different geographic origin? For that matter, Kurdish is an Indo-European language while Turkish belongs to the Altaic family. In fact everything about Kurdish culture is different from that of the Turks. If there is commonality, it is the result of assimilation that the Turks have carried out in the North for more than a century. And it is already in covert motion in the South. What will be next then? The announcement of Sun Language Theory 2.0?
In conclusion, the fact must be clarified that no one is against friendly diplomatic and economic ties between any two countries or nations, so long as they are based on mutual respect and mutual interest, aimed at helping each other to develop, guaranteeing respect and each other’s sovereignty. But the case here is completely different. Turkey is trying to establish a stranglehold in Kurdistan to drain its goods, undermine its sovereignty and ultimately crush its rightful hope for freedom and liberty. The Turks, showing their forte in hypocrisy, on one side pretend to help the region rebuild itself with ‘investments,’ and on the other, support and push other ethnic minorities and nationalist groups to stand against the Kurds’ rightful demands for freedom.
What is most surprising is that it seems that the KRG tolerates and in fact, even supports this insidious spread of the cultural and political dominance of a nation notorious for its abusive manners and practices towards Kurds for centuries. A message from a representative of Barzani in 2003 stated: ‘We welcome the Americans and are waiting for them to liberate Iraq, but if they end up bringing a Turkish occupation instead of Saddam Hussein, we may be forced to fight.’ 
What seems to be the fact these days is that they themselves are bringing a Turkish occupation on the Kurds of the South and sponsoring it wholeheartedly. Some have falsely interpreted the recent developments perhaps to assuage Turkish tensions with the KRG. But even in a scenario where Kurdistan one day gains independence with the blessings of Turkey, it will still be captive to Turkish dominance due to the KRG’s extreme and singular reliance on Turkey. This would render independence futile, for Kurdistan would be at the mercy of the Turks and have to rely on the not-so-gracious hands of the Turks for decades to come.
In the end, despite all the preposterous remarks made by the Turkish Consul in Erbil, he was right in one thing when he said: ‘[in the next three years] the frontier dividing us will be rendered obsolete.’ Indeed, in the near and foreseeable future, the Kurdistan region may end up, just as the Mosul Vilayet was, a fully integrated part of Turkey in everything but name.
 Education minister to attend conference in Arbil. Today’s Zaman, 14 December 2010.
 Turkish National Education Minister in Irbil. The Free Library, 15 December 2010.
 Turkish National Education Minister Cubukcu in Irbil (video). Cihan Medya, 14 December 2010.
 Gülerce, Hüseyin. Turkish Schools in Northern Iraq. Today’s Zaman (via Fetullah Gülen’s Website), 14 November 2007.
 van Wilgenburg, Vladimir. “They taught us how great Turkey is”. Kurdnet, 29 August 2006.
 Turkish school to open in Halabja. AKNews, 25 August 2010.
 Acar, Yusuf. Northern Iraq’s first Turkish university opens. Today’s Zaman, 25 November 2008.
 Turkey: The Country’s Biggest Religious Movement Educates Kurds, and not Everyone Is Happy. EurasiaNet, 02 March 2009.
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 In all aspects our relations will diversify, deepen and expand. The Kurdish Globe, 08 January 2011.