Sweden and possible political convulsions: NATO and the Kurds

Sweden and possible political convulsions: NATO and the Kurds

Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Finland and Sweden hope to join NATO after caving into the demands of Turkey. Ironically, Turkey occupies Northern Cyprus and Northern Syria – and kills the Kurds and Yazidis in Northern Iraq. Also, internal political persecution continues against the Kurds, Gulenists, and socialists. Therefore, with Finland and Sweden needing to deport Kurds wanted in Turkey according to the demands of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, this looks set to set off internal convulsions in Sweden.

Sweden, unlike Finland, is home to approximately 100,000 Kurds and many politicians from several parties are aghast by appeasing Turkey. If convulsions emerge in Sweden, then Finland might feel ill winds toward the appeasement of Turkey concerning the abandonment of human rights. However, Sweden is in a more difficult predicament after both nations agreed to prevent all internal support to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People’s Protection Units (YPG).

The PYD and YPG actively fight against ISIS (Islamic State – IS) in the military and political arena. Yet, for President Joe Biden – similar to the former leader Donald Trump – and following an earlier pattern that happened in Iraq after the demise of Saddam Hussein: it seems that the Kurds are always expendable. Therefore, the ruling political elites in Finland and Sweden are content to abandon the Kurds.

Al-Monitor reports, “Even Swedish Social Democrats, the leading government party to which Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Foreign Minister Ann Linde belong, strongly criticized the agreement, with party heavyweights chastising the deal.” 

Associated Foreign Press says, “Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson refused on Sunday to deny Turkey’s claim that it had promised to deport individuals sought by Ankara as part of Stockholm’s efforts to join NATO.”

Pierre Schori – a close confidant of the esteemed former Social Democrat Premier Olof Palme (assassinated in 1986)– weighed in. He said, “The agreement with Turkey is a slam for Erdogan, a shame for Sweden – and a betrayal of Kurdish freedom fighters. It is a shock for many Social Democrats.”

The director at the Institute for Turkish Studies at Stockholm University, Paul Levin, said, “Sweden has been a thorn in Turkey’s side, criticizing Turkish human rights abuses, there is a strong and vibrant Kurdish diaspora in Sweden, parts of which is sympathetic to the PKK… All these things fly in the face of the Turkish perspective on these issues that the PKK and their affiliates are an essential national security threat to Turkey.”

Asharq Al-Awsat reports, “The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPF) are a key part of the SDF that controls large parts of northern Syria and is regarded by Washington as an important ally against ISIS. Ankara sees it as an extension of the militant PKK, branding it a terrorist group, while Western governments do not.”

The Kurds are the largest stateless people in the Middle East. In recent history, America and other NATO powers have manipulated the Kurds in Iraq and Syria. Therefore, despite the Kurds fighting under the geopolitical goals of several NATO powers – notably America: they still suffer persecution in Iraq, Iran, and Turkey.

The leader of Turkey often changes like a chameleon. However, he might be playing hardball with Finland and Sweden so that a fresh military attack against the Kurds in Northern Syria is met with a muted response by both nations – and other NATO members.

If Turkey demands the extraditions of Kurds and Turks – and Sweden abides by this to join NATO – then possible internal political convulsions are a distinct possibility.



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