It depends who you are

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By Hugo Foster

The War on Terror has certainly not made the world a better place, inflicting untold damage on many of the things which we hold dear, from civil liberties to many peoples’ perception of the very principles of freedom and democracy themselves. But has this campaign – which continues to subordinate these values to febrile and hollow security concerns – made the world a safer place, in any shape or form?

The recent resumption in Turkey's bombing of northern Iraq tells a story that is horribly familiar. Turkey justifies its campaigns, which have inflicted considerable damage on the civilian populations of northern Iraq, in the context of its fight to eliminate the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Kurdish ‘terrorist’ group. Yet in strategic terms, the campaign makes little sense. The PKK’s presence in Iraq is minimal. In any case its fighters’ are largely concealed in remote mountainous locations away from the villages actually being bombed.All this barely disguises Turkey’s real concern that the development of Iraq's Kurdish regions (the only part of Iraq to enjoy a scrap of stability in recent years) would embolden its own hugely disenfranchised Kurdish population.

Putting Turkey’s interests aside, this episode underlines the overwhelming counter-productivity and hypocrisy of the War on Terror. Following the precedent set by the US, many countries clearly deem it acceptable to violate the sovereignty of other countries whilst compromising the human rights of civilian populations in the name of their own narrow interests. All in all, this can only make the world a more dangerous place, weakening stability in regions already devastated by intractable conflicts. But then Turkey is a ‘nice and friendly’ NATO ally and European Union applicant, hence the US’ virtually non-existent condemnation of Turkey and the granting of airspace clearance to its fighter jets ahead of the bombings. This is, of course, the same US that has consistently condemned any suggestion of interference in Iraq by its so-called ‘rogue state’ neighbours, Syria and Iran.