25 February 2018

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Ankara using anti-Jihadi campaign to fight Kurdish autonomist desires

Erdogan is really worried about the possible declaration of a Kurdish state. The president, who is probably thinking about early elections, claims that some lawmakers from the Kurdish-based HDP party have links to Kurdish terrorists in the PKK. The HDP’s success at the polls in June prevented the ruling party from having an absolute majority. Turkey and the United States confirmed their intention of creating a 90-km long "IS-free zone" inside Syria.

Ankara (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to take concrete actions against the Islamic state (IS) group stems from a desire to prevent the Kurds from seeking autonomy or even their own state in the section of Syria they control.

Until recently in fact, Ankara had closed both eyes to the flow of men and materiel through its territory towards IS-held areas. Yesterday, Erdogan launched an attack against the Peoples' Democratic Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi, HDP), a Kurdish-based party whose success at the polls in June prevented the president’s ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) from winning an absolute majority.

The president even claimed that some HDP lawmakers had links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê, PKK) and has called for their parliamentary immunity to be lifted. Such actions have led to speculation that the president might be tempted to go for early elections.

In view of the situation, the Turkish leader said that the peace process with the PKK, which had begun in 2012, was “impossible” because of Kurdish attacks against the Turkish military. For this reason, Turkish airplanes struck PKK bases in Kurdish areas of Turkey and northern Iraq.

In his response, HDP President Selahattin Demirtas said that Turkey’s anti-IS operations are a ruse to pursue its war against Kurdish desire for autonomy.

Whatever the reason, yesterday Turkey received NATO backing. After an emergency meeting in Brussels, the Alliance expressed "strong solidarity” and firm support for Ankara.

Nonetheless, although all 28 alliance members recognised Turkey’s right to defend itself, some privately called for a proportional response against the PKK in order to save the peace process.

On the margins of the NATO meeting, Turkey and the United States confirmed their intention of creating a 90-km long "IS-free zone" inside Syria along the Turkish border.

This would allow Syrian refugees to go back and prevent the creation of the Kurdish region within Syria, a prospect Erdogan dreads.

For Washington, which for months had tried to get Ankara to commit against IS, this is the price to pay for the right to use the Incirlik airbase against the Jihadi group.

See also

08/10/2014 SYRIA - TURKEY
As airstrikes fail to stop Jihadist push in Kobane, ground operation appears necessary
As street fighting rages, Kurdish fighters and militias of the Islamic State battle for control of the city. Ankara is playing hard to get, using its intervention as a bargaining chip for support for anti-Assad rebels. Iran claims airstrikes are designed to topple the Syrian regime. In Turkey 14 Kurdish protesters die.

30/08/2016 16:53:00 SYRIA – TURKEY
Kurdish Ambassador: My people have been used and abandoned by the US

Turkey’s offensive in Syrian territory continues with more than 50 tanks still across the border. Ankara announces the killing of "25 Kurdish terrorists". Human rights activists say those killed were civilians. Erdogan and Obama are set to meet in China on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. For Saywan S. Barzani, "proxy wars" are fought in the Middle East "between different countries, behind whom one finds the Americans and the Russians".

24/08/2016 17:51:00 SYRIA – TURKEY
Turkey invades Jarablus: under the pretext of fighting IS, Ankara is going after the Kurds

Tanks have invaded the town across the border, in Syrian territory. Ankara "wants to hit Islamic state militants" but jihadists have already left the area. The Turkish goal is Syria’s Kurds to block the emergence of an autonomous enclave. A game of alliances is being played with the US and Turkey in a tug-of-war.

Washington asking a reluctant Turkey to do "more" against the Islamic state
A statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry confirms that the US is putting pressure on Ankara, which however is more concerned about the possibility that Syrian Kurds autonomy alongside the largely autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan might boost a push for autonomy by Turkish Kurds. Turkey also wants the coalition to get rid of Assad.

Ankara to allow Iraqi Kurds to cross to fight Islamic state
The Turkish government backtracks on blocking Kurds. The latter will now be able to fight with Syrian Kurds in Kobane. The United States carries out airdrops of military and medical supplies to fighters resisting Islamic fundamentalists.

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