Sabri Ok: The AKP is falling apart

Sabri Ok said that "the Kurdish people, together with the democratic forces, have achieved successful results."

Sabri Ok, a member of the KCK Executive Council, spoke about Erdoğan's upcoming talks in Iraq and what impact this may have on the war, and gave an overview of the elections in Turkey and North Kurdistan and what the situation of the AKP and Erdoğan currently is.

The first part of this interview can be read here

The agenda in North Kurdistan and Turkey is the results of the municipal elections held on 31 March. What message did the Kurdish people send in these elections?

A very important election has taken place. The Kurdish people, together with the democratic forces, have achieved successful results. Though the elections are but a fragment of the whole.

When we evaluate the democratic forces, we include the Kurdish people and their struggle; when we evaluate the Kurdish people, we include the democratic forces. They integrate, and together they gave important messages during the elections. What were these messages? First, no matter how much the occupying Turkish state and the AKP persecute with all their means, no matter how dictatorial they are, their power has come to an end. From now on, they can only resist; they will no longer be able to maintain their dictatorship as before. This message was given clearly. Secondly, whatever their oppression, massacres, and attacks, the Kurdish people and democratic forces will never surrender to them; they will always rise up and continue to wage their struggle. This message was also given.

In the past, trustees were appointed to the municipalities legally won by the Kurdish people. Now the Kurdish people have defeated the trustee system by demonstrating their will and clarifying that even if the government tries to appoint trustees, the people will resist and impose their will. Most importantly, the Kurdish people showed that, this time, the state will not be able to appoint trustees as easily as before. Even if the state tries, the people will resist, rise-up, and block these policies. This could be seen most clearly in Wan. The Turkish state wanted to test the waters there. If their plan had succeeded, they would have appointed trustees everywhere gradually. But that serhildan was very important. Furthermore, the struggle among the democratic forces of Turkey prevented the appointment of trustees. The Turkish state is an occupying state, and our people and democratic forces must always be prepared against it. If the state wants to appoint trustees once again, a tougher, more radical serhildan will be necessary. In this sense, we should not be complacent.

Everyone is talking about the CHP in this process. The CHP did not achieve this success on its own. There are those who think Kurds are apolitical, but Kurds are one of the most political and conscious societies. In this election, they carried out a strategy that many were surprised by. They approached the election strategically and made the AKP lose. Most of Turkey’s democratic forces also adopted such an approach. The CHP took advantage of this approach to defeat the AKP; in doing so, they succeeded. For the first time in more than 40 years, the CHP became the biggest party in Turkey. Now the CHP has a responsibility and a burden. What will the CHP do? Will it be the same as before? Or will it understand the message of the Kurdish people and the democratic forces and renew itself accordingly? I think the Kurdish people and democratic forces should put pressure on the CHP. They should ask the CHP for their program to democratize Turkey. They should want to learn and understand. Related to this is also CHP’s approach to the Kurdish question.

Till now, the CHP was secretive and cowardly regarding the Kurdish question. But especially now, it must openly share its policy on the Kurdish question. If the CHP is truthful, honest, and serious relating to these points, if it takes a positive approach, the country will undoubtedly enter an important and new process. But if the CHP repeats itself, if it acts cowardly again, if it does not develop a radical, democratic, it will be a pity for the CHP. In the incident of Wan and in the AKP’s approach to the elections, it was seen that the CHP base is open to democracy. This base has a certain stand against brutality and AKP rule. The CHP leadership should take these realities into consideration and reshape itself.

The opposition has become the first party in Turkey and the AKP-MHP has fallen to second place. How will these results affect Turkish politics?

For the first time since the AKP came to power, it has fallen to second place. If one can understand correctly, this demotion carries a lot of meaning. It is seen that the AKP is in disbelief and hysteria, their psychology cannot handle this situation. They benefited from all the resources and blessings of the country and region. The mentality of the MHP has seeped into the entire bureaucracy; they have become the state. Devlet Bahçeli and the AKP talk as if they own the state and the country, and no one holds them answerable, no one questions their power or their truth. A more radical stance must be taken against them, and they must be fought against.

The fact that they declined to second place is, of course, important because it means an obstacle has been overcome. Many people in Turkish society, and even some international politicians, were questioning whether it was even possible for the AKP and Erdoğan to lose. Why would it be impossible, or even unlikely? The AKP has engaged in every nefarious act, exploited all the country’s resources in its own interest, and made its own circle rich. As a result, they have ruined Turkey, ravaged the economy, blocked politics, and wrecked the psychology of society. In fact, if there had been a true, serious, radical, democratic opposition, the AKP would have lost power long ago. The AKP is losing the grounds of its power; for how much longer they will be able to hold on depends on the struggle against them.

Without the struggle of the Kurdish people and the PKK, the AKP would not have lost power or will. As always, they would have deceived and diverted the public with superficial agendas. The AKP utilized everything it had in the war against the Kurdish people, and in the process, it destroyed its own reputation, disgraced its own image and prestige. Still, they insist on war against the Kurdish people and, still, they are running out of air to breathe. Even the base who had previously voted for the AKP have broken away from them. If the AKP insists on the same mentality and the opposition plays a democratic role, the powers in government will come to an end very soon.

Erdoğan is expected to travel to Iraq around the end of April, according to sources in the media. The US President, Joe Biden, will then meet with him in May. These visits appear to be about your party. What purpose is Erdoğan serving with these trips, and do you believe he will succeed in achieving his goals?

Fascists and other rulers only have their own interests in mind; they claim that they will always be in control. They want everyone to believe this. The future of such rulers is based on destroying the Kurdish people and enforcing this conflict. All they do is look for strategies and means to accomplish these goals. During his visit to the country, Erdoğan will exert pressure on the Iraqi government and make as many concessions as possible to bring down the PKK. However, Erdoğan and the AKP are pragmatists and liars; they say one thing and do another. They pose a risk in terms of ideology as well. They hope to expand in the area as a new Ottoman Empire. This is their goal in the Middle East. Erdoğan thinks that Iraq still belongs to the Ottomans. Regardless of how disgraceful it is, that’s the way he approaches Iraq. Of course, Iraq sees this reality. Whatever evil there is in the Middle East, in Iraq, Erdoğan and the Turkish state have a hand in it. From Kirkuk and Mosul to Libya, Erdoğan wants to create problems and take advantage of chaos. This is their policy.

We want to believe that Iraq will not be a pawn in the Turkish state’s game. If they fall for Erdoğan’s game, it will not be good. The PKK has not harmed the laws and regulations of Iraq, especially Iraqi society, and people. On the contrary, the PKK played a historic role in the fight against ISIS. Without the PKK, Shengal [Sinjar], Mosul, Mekhmur, Kirkuk, and Hewler [Erbil] would all have fallen to ISIS. Iraq knows this reality. Iraq also knows the PKK’s power and the kind of war it is waging, very well. That is why Iraq should develop a more correct and rational policy on this issue. At the same time, it must also be aware of the reality of the Turkish state.

The Turkish army has intruded 40 kilometers into Iraqi territory, established dozens of military bases, and brought thousands of soldiers to Iraqi territory. An independent state would not accept this. Let alone fighting the PKK, the Iraqi state should work with the PKK to stop the Turkish state. The Iraqi state has the obligation to do something against the Turkish state in the international arena. They are a bit weak at this point.

For example, the Iraqi press should be more combative against the invasion and attacks of the Turkish state, and society should stand up. Yet, they remain silent. Nevertheless, we hope that the Iraqi state will not become a partner of the Turkish state against the PKK. We are not against economic, commercial, and political relations between states, but the PKK and the Kurdish people will not accept the Iraqi state being a part of the Turkish state's conspiracies, games, and wars. The problems created by the Turkish state in Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East in general are obvious. The AKP’s efforts against the PKK must be frustrated. After his visit to Iraq, Erdoğan will go to the US. After Biden became the US president, Erdoğan really wanted to go to the White House. But Biden did not want to meet until now, he did not accept Erdoğan. Till now, Erdoğan was not given an appointment. The reason why the US accepted the visit must also be understood. Many issues, such as the Ukraine-Russia war, the situation in the Middle East, and Syria, will be discussed. Again, the F-35 fighter jet issue was always on the agenda of the Turkish state.

The US will not strengthen the hand of the Turkish state and Erdoğan if it does not align with its own interests. Unfortunately, it will help the Turkish state on the Kurdish issue and Erdoğan will again make whatever concessions are necessary on this issue. Erdoğan’s aim is to provide himself with an opportunity in the war against the Kurdish people. He wants to get the US to accept and approve his plans to attack South Kurdistan and Iraq. The entire Iraqi airspace is under the control of the US. Without the US, without its approval, the Turkish state would not be able to fly its planes and bomb Iraq and South Kurdistan. Nevertheless, Erdoğan’s influence in Turkey will not be the same as before the March 31 elections. Nor will he be taken seriously in foreign policy. The elections will have an impact on Erdoğan’s position and the negotiations he wants to develop. Erdoğan is doing everything to wage war against the Kurdish people. The US should not support Erdoğan’s demands. But if they do, it means that they insist on the same line today, which they did 25 years ago when the International Conspiracy took place on their initiative and decision.

The US knows that even though Kurdistan is divided into four provinces, the hearts and minds of the Kurds are one. The fate and future of the Kurdish people were drawn 100 years ago with the Cairo Conference, when the country was divided into four parts. On March 8, on Newroz, on Rêber Apo’s birthday, it was made clear that the mind, heart, and soul of the Kurds are one. The hearts of our people in Rojava, Rojhilat, North and South Kurdistan, Europe, and different countries beat as one. It is not possible to have a positive approach to one part of Kurdistan while destroying another. The US and Europe should have a more objective Kurdish policy; they should not favor one part of Kurdistan while supporting the genocide of Kurds in another part. From now on, the US should formulate a general policy and not accept the genocidal attacks of the Turkish state against the Kurdish people.

You mentioned that Erdoğan’s circumstances are not as comfortable as they were prior to the elections, both domestically and internationally. What effect does Erdoğan’s and the AKP’s decline to the sidelines have on Turkish diplomacy?

The relations which develop between states and governments are important. States have interests in each other. The governments impact this in a positive or negative way. Many states and powers are not happy with the AKP and Erdoğan. But they do what their interests require. After the March 31st elections, the European and even the Middle Eastern press described the AKP and Erdoğan as having lost power. Erdoğan doesn’t have the power he used to have. This will have an impact on negotiations, diplomacy, and talks, but it will not be the determining factor. In the coming period, the AKP will no longer be in power, and maybe it will even be defeated sooner than expected. But the determining factor is that states have political, strategic, geopolitical, and multifaceted interests in the short and long term.

The AKP takes use of the Palestinian struggle and bends it to suit its needs. Erdoğan’s hypocrisy was exposed in the Hamas-Israel conflict when it was discovered that Turkey had supplied the weapons and ammunition used in the conflict against the Palestinian people. What is your assessment of this situation?

There are two fundamental questions in the Middle East: the Palestinian question and the Kurdish question. Unless the problems of the Kurdish and Palestinian people are solved democratically, the Middle East will never be democratized. This is a matter of fact. How much this war serves their interests is another discussion. AKP, especially Erdoğan, is a pragmatist, he is unprincipled and immoral. He does whatever serves his interests. They present themselves as if they are working day and night for Palestine, as if they want the Palestinian people to fulfill their dreams, but the same AKP and Erdoğan have doubled their trade with Israel in the last six months. This is hypocrisy. They are shedding crocodile tears. On the one hand, they are trying to deceive and manipulate the public, while on the other hand, they have increased their trade by folds. Lies can only go so far; what they have done has been exposed. They are now in a desperate situation.

Erbakan’s son, the chairman of the so-called Welfare Party, developed a strategic, clever policy, and they caught Erdoğan at his weakest point. Erbakan’s son revealed that the AKP regime was shedding fake tears for Palestine, by drawing attention to arms trades between Israel and the Turkish state. He said: “If you are honest, if you are truthful, if you are a Muslim, you should give up this trade.” He caught Erdoğan by surprise. Erdoğan was dumbfounded. But as I said, interests are everything for Turkey, especially for the AKP. In the past, Özal, Demirel, Erbakan, and Ecevit had some principles, when you looked at their personalities, their lives, and their families you could see they had principles. But Erdoğan has no such measure or principle. His son, daughter, son-in-law, relatives–all of them–are somehow in the state, and all of them are exploiting the resources of the state. They are deceiving Turkish society with the tenets of concepts such as ‘the homeland’ and ‘the nation.’ Turkey is falling apart, being divided, and their blood is being spilled in the mountains of Kurdistan. Unfortunately, Turkish society is not aware of this. But this is gradually changing.

In the past, Turkish society would show huge reactions during the funeral ceremonies of Turkish soldiers. In order to silence these reactions, the AKP regime exerted great pressure, and some of them were hushed with money. Still, there is a strong potential. A few days ago, a reporter from the HPG said that the corpses of hundreds of Turkish soldiers were buried on the border between Kurdistan and Turkey. Many families do not know if their children are alive or not, or where they are buried. The state is suppressing the reactions with money, but this will only go so far. Surely, this will reach its breaking point. It is like this all over the world. Governments rise to the top and either they explode or fall as fast as they rose. The AKP government has also risen to the top. It will find no remedy, it is going to fall in the same way.