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(en) France, UCL AL #347 - International, Geopolitics: Sweden enters NATO and gives in to Turkish blackmail (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 9 Apr 2024 07:54:08 +0300

The Turkish state had until now blocked Sweden's accession to NATO with, among the main reasons, that of harboring Kurdish "terrorists". Sweden having given in to Turkish demands, the veto was lifted last month, and concern is spreading among the country's Kurdish community. Twenty months after Sweden's request for membership, Erdogan's decision ends a tense diplomatic situation, leaving Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban the final decision-maker on Sweden's presence in NATO. It also represents one more step in the current hawkish escalation.
The Kurds of Sweden say: this diplomatic "success" is detrimental to them. They now feel in the sights of Swedish repression, like the situation in Germany or France[1], as well as other European countries whose doctrine regarding the repression of activists Kurds are evolving in favor of the expectations of the Turkish state. "I have never gone through a more difficult time than today in Sweden. The Kurds suffered here. I suffered too. A lot of people need help," says Kurdo Baksi, a Swedish-Kurdish author. The Kurdish community (from Turkey, Syria, Iraq or Iran) is very large in Sweden, numbering more than 100,000 people.

"Political mobilization of Kurds in Sweden has been high in recent years, giving more prominence to PKK-linked associations," says Paul Levini, director of the Institute of Turkish Studies at Stockholm University. "Although the PKK has been classified as a terrorist organization since the 1980s in Sweden, the authorities have been more tolerant towards it than in other European countries. " So far.

Erdogan has accused historically neutral Sweden of harboring members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), despite becoming the first country after Turkey to label the PKK a terrorist group. A designation later approved by the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Turkish president is exercising his right to veto entry into NATO on this accusation.

Sweden bends over backwards to satisfy Erdogan
To convince Erdogan, responding to pressure from its European partners and promoting his political agenda, Sweden went so far as to reform its Constitution and adopt a new anti-terrorism law. The Swedish authorities are now stepping up surveillance of Kurds living in Sweden, subjecting asylum requests to investigations by Säpo, the security police, and closing the bank accounts of Kurdish charities. The residence permits of dozens of people were also reportedly revoked. Another striking example: immediately after Turkey gave its approval to Sweden's presence in NATO, the public channel Sveriges Radio announced that it would close its Kurdish editorial staff on April 1.

Although the channel mentions financial issues, many people are convinced that this is a move aimed at appeasing Turkey. Also note the closure of the Kurdish Red Crescent in Sweden. Several asylum seekers, after having been imprisoned or detained in Turkey, are accused of being associated with the PKK and wait in vain for their requests to be studied. This situation is reminiscent of the aftermath of the assassination of Olof Palme, former Swedish prime minister, in 1986. The PKK was then wrongly accused (investigation closed in 2020 following the death of the main suspect).

Former Swedish MP Amineh Kakabaveh, of Kurdish-Iranian origin, previously under police protection following death threats, says she is troubled by Stockholm's change of heart: "Many Swedish Kurds are afraid to speak openly about the current situation. In Sweden we always talk about values, human rights, the safety of immigrants or asylum seekers, but now they are no longer safe." In 2022, she was described by Ankara's ambassador to Sweden as "a person likely to be extradited to Turkey".

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the NATO ratification ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.C., March 7, 2024
U.S. Department of State
F-16s that weigh in the balance
Another demand from Erdogan in exchange for his green light: the simultaneous approval by the American Congress of the sale of F-16 fighter planes to Turkey. Previously, Turkey was excluded from the US military aviation program for F-35 fighter jets because it purchased its S-400 air defense system from Russia. For its part, the American Congress, worried about the postures of the Turkish president, particularly against Israel, had requested the green light from Sweden in NATO as a prerequisite, before providing these planes. A fool's game.

As Turkey prepares to sign the membership ratification, the last act before Sweden's entry into NATO is now being played out in Hungary. Hungary has given Sweden its support in principle, but is dragging its feet. In 2022, the Hungarian government submitted Sweden's membership ratification to Parliament but the final vote was repeatedly delayed. Several voices denounce a new strategy of blackmail by Viktor Orbán to obtain concessions from the EU, others a sign of his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In addition, Budapest has taken a negative view of Stockholm's criticism of its retreat from the EU's democratic principles.

Block the war machine
Eager to form a united front against Moscow, Western imperialisms welcome this step. It is also a big military strategic advantage for them. Not to mention Sweden's advanced defense industry and considerable air fleet, Russia's Baltic Fleet port in the Kaliningrad enclave will soon be surrounded by countries that all belong to the alliance...

Norway, Latvia, Lithuania, discuss possible war with Russia. Grant Shapps, British Defense Minister, speaks of the transition "from a post-war world to a pre-war world". The Swedish government, allied to the far right, does not hide the fact that it seriously considers the possibility of a war on its soil, considering that the Russia-Ukraine conflict is "only a stage" and is prepare for it. The political rupture that the country is going through echoes the end of its two-century-old neutrality.

This is all the more a very worrying signal of Turkish influence and the desire of the powers involved to maintain a situation of extreme tension. Let us hope that the Russian army will break its teeth on Ukraine, putting an end to this dangerous escalation, and that the mobilizations in favor of the Kurds and other peoples oppressed by the wars waged by the capitalist states will bear fruit. Let us block the war machine by all possible means and rebuild social and class resistance.

Wanted (UCL Grenoble)

To validate

[1]"Kurdish movement: Repression does not weaken", Libertarian Alternative n° 346, January 2024.

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