Turkish Hizbullah is back — in a new guise as a political party, Huda-Par. Hizbullah (not related to Lebanon’s Hezbullah) has been around for a few decades, wreaking havoc of one kind or another. I’ve covered it in this blog in relation to extra-judicial murders of prominent Kurds in the 1990s (in contract to the Turkish deep state), then a murderous rampage across the country killing and viciously torturing Kurds, Islamists and others, including women, and videotaping the torture sessions. The state finally cracked down on them, killing their leader in a shootout in 2000, closing their safe houses, unearthing the bodies in their back yards, and bringing the rest of the pack to trial. But despite all the evidence of the video tapes and bodies, the judiciary sat on their appeals for ten years until the time was up and they were by law required to be released (people accused of insulting Ataturk or writing about Kurds, by contrast, were assured of receiving speedy and lengthy sentences).
In the meantime, Hizbullah reemerged in civil society sheep’s clothing in a series of associations of slippery provenance, some allegedly financed by Iran, holding demonstrations with anti-secular, anti-Ankara, and anti-Israel themes (with distinctive Iran-style headbands, flags, and women in black charshafs), and possibly involved in the Mavi Marmara incident. I made an attempt to connect the dots between some of these unsavory associations here and here. Hizbullah’s umbrella organization Mustafaz Der (Association of the Oppressed) was closed down by Turkey’s Supreme Court in May 2012.
In December 2012, Hizbullah established a new political party, Huda-Par (Party of God). In a June 2012 interview with Sidki Zilan, unofficial spokesman for Hizbullah, he laid out the aims of the planned party. He saw this as an opportunity to grab votes from AKP, which he said attracted Sunni Zaza Kurds, and the BDP, which attracted Kurmanci Kurds (with Alevi Kurds voting CHP). The party seems perfectly happy to institute sharia law in Turkey. “We are Muslims before all else, but we will take note of the people’s wishes,” Zilan said, when asked about sharia. “And the people will no doubt cleave to Allah’s path.” No doubt.
Huda-Par sets itself against the secular Marxist-derived PKK in a rivalry that has already drawn blood, potentially starting a turf war between Islamist and nationalist Kurds just at a sensitive time in the AKP-PKK peace process. From The Economist‘s article about the new party.
Tensions between Huda-Par and the determinedly secular PKK have been bubbling ever since the Islamists announced they would be taking part in municipal elections in 2014. Last month the PKK accused Hizbullah of attacking mourners in the town of Cizre on the Iraqi border. In reply, Huda-Par complained that PKK vigilantes had repeatedly targeted its offices…
After PKK youths prevented Huda-Par volunteers from distributing leaflets on November 2nd, gunmen stormed a wedding attended by supporters of the pro-PKK Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), killing one guest. One of the assailants, who were arrested last week, was identified as a Huda-Par member and former Hizbullah militant.
I suggested in 2010 that Ankara’s turning a blind eye to Hizbullah’s activities in all of their guises was a dangerous game, putting the AKP in bed with Islamist extremists. Given what is happening now with al-Nusra and other Qaeda-linked groups operating freely on the Turkish-Syrian border in a proxy rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Qatar and Iran-funded Shiite groups, the fact that an Iran-linked former terrorist group has just started a political party in Turkey can’t be good news.