PKK/PYD terrorists and other colonialist structures in N. Syria - SELÇUK TÜRKYILMAZ

PKK/PYD terrorists and other colonialist structures in N. Syria

There are a substantial number of Turkish publications on colonialism and imperialism. Considering that West European countries had unquestionable sovereignty over the whole world during the period that continued until World War II, it can even be said the number of these publications is very few. However, it must be noted that a significant portion of these is translated works. Quite important books have been translated on the subject, especially in recent times. It is uncertain the level of response these books receive, but I would like to touch on matters I find quite important. 


I tried to express it on a few occasions previously, yet I was unable to provide a detailed analysis. Translated books, and publications written with inspiration from them, generally prefer the term “sömürgecilik,” the direct Turkish translation of the word colonialism, which also means “exploitationism,” instead of the term “colonialism.” This is a mistake that requires attention. This mistake is one of the most important reasons underlying the lack of consensus regarding the interventions Türkiye faces today in almost every field. In fact, it should be noted that such ideological mistakes prevent certain healthy projections concerning the world and Türkiye’s future as well. For example, the concept of colonialism signifies a certain piece of land. The most basic factor leading to this meaning is colonies. It is possible through these concepts alone to explain how European nations built colonies in faraway lands, and how this turned into a system through time. Ideas pertaining to land, colony, and settlement get lost in the concept of colonialism. As mentioned above, the Turkish translation of the term colonialism means exploitation. This not only conceals the differences in sovereignty forms between the 19th and 20th centuries but also makes vague the meaning. 


For example, in which context would we need to discuss the terrorist corridor certain countries and organizations are seeking to form in north Syria? The history of West European countries – which have a colonialist legacy – taking over vast territories in far regions is not a very old one. So, what are the main objectives of this legacy’s inheritors regarding north Syria and, in fact, many parts of our region? Does the organization they want to establish in north Syria correspond to non-colonialist imperialism, like in the previous century, or is this the reflection of Neo-colonialist politics? If we are talking about objectives based on land, then is a new circumstance outside imperialist hegemony in question?  


Certain individuals known to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syrian wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stand out in European and U.S. press through their writing. One of these individuals wrote recently about Türkiye’s potential intervention in northern Syria and claimed that the areas under PKK-PYD control would be taken over by Sunni groups. Groups such as the PKK-PYD used to embrace a worldview. These groups’ desire to found a corridor state governed by colonialist West European countries and the imperialist U.S., is reminiscent of 19th-century politics. Though was never really stated very openly, Marxism was a colonialist ideology. This shows that the current state we are in cannot be explained. Why are we surprised that an organization founded upon a Marxist worldview acts under U.S. and European countries' control? Why is it that groups and people who share the same worldview do not object to this? These questions are important. 


Which concept should we choose to identify the new forms of hegemony based on the lands and colonies in regions outside Europe? Do we need a new definition other than colonialism, imperialism, and Neo-colonialism? If a new form of hegemony based on territory through proxy powers is in question, we can identify this as new colonialism. This new system might be an unjust order that allows exploitation like in the past. Yet, we cannot identify this as colonialism, too. If we choose to use the term colonialism, we would be ignoring the objectives based on population and culture. Hence, works based on land and identity will allow us to better analyze certain developments. 


It is safe to say that someone who identifies Türkiye’s potential intervention in northern Syria as the desire to form a homogeneous zone at the hand of Sunni groups, developed their perception abroad. This person views our region with a European identity. They speak for them and make land arrangements in their name. 


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