Erdogan’s dream to revive Turkey’s ‘lost status’ as the most powerful Muslim country cannot be materialized, he and his advisers seem to believe, without first fundamentally altering Turkey’s own political system and this alteration is, he believes, incomplete without making him powerful. Hence, Erdogan’s emphasis on ‘constitutionally’ introducing presidential form of government in Turkey to concentrate all power into his personality. It is ironic to see the emphasis on this system coming at a time when Erdogan himself is Turkey’s president. However, the power-drive he is riding is likely to cost Turkey a lot in terms of political stability. Already Turkey is facing enormous difficulties due to its bad policies on the external front; and now the reported rift between Erdogan and Turkey’s prime minister is going to add fuel to the fire. In simplest terms, resignation of Turkey’s PM has made Erdogan the head of state, of the government and, of course, the party. What a tremendous way of becoming the head of ‘everything’! Any yet Erdogan continues to claim that Turkey is a ‘democracy.’
While Erdogan’s current constitutional status supposes him to act in a ‘neutral’ manner, his extremely narrowly self-defined political behaviour tends to defy Turkey’s constitution in the most ridiculous way. Despite the fact that Erdogan had picked Davutoglu’s concept of ‘Neo-Ottomanism’ as a means to re-establish Turkey’s relations with the former territories of Ottoman Empire, stretching from the Middle East, North Africa to the Balkan and Black Sea regions, they seem to have developed serious differences with regard to the changes in domestic political system that should precede the implementation of this new foreign policy outlook. For Erdogan, this change in the foreign policy—a policy that is aimed at reviving Turkey’s position of power in the region— and the objectives it envisages cannot be effectively materialized unless a strong centre is created.
That Erdogan is squeezing power into his own hands is evident from the statement Davutoglu gave after the crisis talks with the president failed. He was reported to have said that one important reason for stepping down was a decision by the party’s executive (Erdogan) to take away his (prime minister’s) authority to appoint provincial party leaders.
However, this is not only the reason. The rift is deep-rooted in two different visions that both of them have with regard to taking Turkey out of crisis. While Davutoglu believed in the way of dialogue with the Kurds, Erdogan believed in creating a strong presidency. As such, While Davutoglu spoke of the possibility of resuming peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) if it withdrew armed fighters from Turkish territory, Erdogan said it was out of the question for the peace process to restart. Further disagreements took place after Davutoglu expressed opposition to the pre-trial detention of journalists accused of spying and academics accused of voicing support for the PKK.
For some, the reason for this crisis goes even deeper. The fact of the matter is that Erdogan had hand-picked his PM. Davutoglu did not, as such, have any strong base within the AKP’s structure. While this is yet another instance of how strong Erdogan continues to be and how explicitly he continues to defy his constitutional role, it also shows how creepy and fragile Turkey’s politics is becoming. This fragility is also showing its signs in some other aspects of polity too. The Turkish lira and the country’s stock market have fallen in recent days as investors shuddered at the prospect of a protracted leadership battle in a $720bn economy plagued by inflation, high foreign debt, a five-year long war on its border with Syria and a violent insurgency in its big cities.
This instability is, as a result of Davutoglu’s exit, likely to creep into Turkey’s relations with the West, particularly the EU, and damage it to a considerable extent. The reason why this is likely to happen is the rapport the Turkish PM had built with the EU and the deals he had made with regard to re-settlement of refugees.
Within the parameters of Turkey’s domestic politics, Davutoglu’s success in easing down Turkey’s relation with the EU meant—or it could be taken as such—that he was acquiring a relatively bigger stature than that of Erdogan—a sense that could have went against Erdogan’s push for presidential form of government.
It was this sense of ‘political status’ that was at the heart of problems between the PM and the President. And it is for this reason that Erdogan had to remind Davutoglu as well as Turkey’s public the true ‘hand-picked’ status of the prime minister. Addressing a group of local leaders on Wednesday, Erdogan was quoted as explicitly stating, “What matters is that you should not forget how you got to your post, what you should do there and what your targets are.” Given such an authoritarian stance, Davutoglu’s exit is going to put at risk Turkey’s ties with the West, which sees Erdogan with skepticism bordering on derision. Erdogan’s palace coup to ease out Davutoglu will only be seen in the West as a leap forward in the direction of authoritarianism.
Ironically, this is precisely what this development is all about. By paving the way for a more ‘sober’ and politically obedient and passive prime minister, Erdogan has underscored his own political power, putting himself in an ‘un-challengeable’ position, but indirectly also allowing Turkey to drift into experiencing an Ottoman-era type political tyranny. While Davutoglu dreamt of re-establishing Turkey’s relations with former territories of Ottoman Empire through his brain-child concept of ‘Neo-Ottomanism’, for Erdogan, this concept is incomplete without first turning his personality into the modern day ‘Sultan.’ Hence the question: will Turkey’s drift into ‘Ottomanism’ lead to its fall on the lines of the Ottoman Empire too? This question, as political behaviour of Erdogan and his team reveals, does not seem to have crossed their mind.
Salman Rafi Sheikh is a research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs.
As Ankara has again been hit by deadly terrorism, Turkey’s Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, has been very quick to assign blame for Wednesday evening’s car bomb in Ankara that killed 28 people.
All the evidence, he said, suggested that the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) were responsible.
Davutoğlu’s declarations should be viewed with suspicion for a number of reasons, particularly the speed with which he announced that Turkey’s security services had uncovered the identity, birthplace, personal history and affiliations of the alleged bomber – literally within hours of the attack. Verdicts that are reached and announced that quickly are often tell-tale indicators of a pre-planned narrative and false-flag operation.
For one thing, we should wonder why Salih Necer, the 24-year-old Syrian national blamed for the explosion, was someone the authorities had so much information on that they were able to declare him the perpetrator so immediately. If there was that much information on him, how was he able to carry out the attack in the first place?
Furthermore, both the Kurdish YPG and the PKK have denied any involvement in the attack. The PYD leader has also said his group was not involved.
That’s always a problem with these narratives; the first rule of terrorism is to claim responsibility. That’s the whole POINT of a terrorist attack – to claim responsibility. But all of the Kurdish groups – who may or may not be ‘terrorists’, depending on where you stand – have entirely denied involvement.
What this attack smells of is deep-state, false-flag terrorism to further an obvious agenda. Aside from the fact that the Turkish state has conducted false-flag terror attacks in the country before (including the nonsensical business of blaming Kurdish groups for attacks on Kurdish rallies), the Turkish government is currently trying to re-establish justifications for its attacks on Syrian Kurds across the border. It is also quite possibly trying to establish justifications for an invasion into Syria. Therefore a deadly terror attack by Syrian Kurds comes at the perfect time to both justify Turkey’s existing activities and to justify further activities that are likely imminent (see more on that here).
Turkish violations of Syria’s sovereignty have become so frequent and brazen that it has prompted Damascus to petition the UN to investigate the Turkish state’s actions. Further to Turkish military shelling of both Syrian Kurdish fighters and Syrian regime targets in recent days, Reuters reported that “the Syrian government says Turkish forces were believed to be among 100 gunmen it said entered Syria on Saturday accompanied by 12 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, in an ongoing supply operation to insurgents fighting Damascus.”
And subsequent to that, it is reported that at least 500 more ‘rebels’ crossed the Turkish border into Syria on Wednesday – the same day as the Ankara bombing. They included rebels as well as Islamist fighters.
In its harsh campaign against both Syrian Kurds and the Kurds in southern Turkey, as well as against the government of Bashar Assad, the Turkish state needs ongoing justifications like this latest attack in Ankara – this is mostly in order to validate its behaviour, not so much domestically as to its international allies and critics.
Official talk also currently indicates Turkey wants to establish a “humanitarian zone” inside northern Syria. The stated reason for this is to protect refugees and prevent them from continuing the mass exodus; but it’s also worth noting that the desired establishment of these zones is entirely in keeping with the buffer zones or “safe zones” envisioned in the Brookings Insitution policy plan for Syria, the primary purpose of which is to create safe zones for armed rebels and anti-government fighters in Syria; which is perhaps all the more urgent now, as rebel groups in northern Syria are crumbling under the assaults from the Syrian Army and its Russian allies.
But the Turkish state’s problem, like that of Saudi Arabia, is that it appears to be hardheadedly committed to a singular outcome that it is unwilling to waver from or compromise on.
Warnings that Turkey, like its neighbour Syria, is in danger of sliding into its own civil war – one that could destabilise Europe even more than Syria has – should be of serious concern to the international community, the EU and Turkey’s allies.
As Turkish journalist Metin Munir correctly forecast back in August 2012, ‘Whichever way Syria goes, Turkey is in big trouble. Turkey’s active engagement in trying to depose Bashar al-Assad has been the country’s worst foreign-policy blunder since its independence’.
The Turkish army has shelled Syrian government forces in Aleppo and Latakia provinces, while also hitting Kurdish targets near the city of Azaz in northwestern Syria, including an air base recently retaken from Islamist rebels, with a massive attack.
Anatolia news agency reported that the Turkish military hit Syrian government forces on Saturday, adding that the shelling had been in response to fire inflicted on a Turkish military guard post in Turkey’s southern Hatay region.
Turkish artillery targeted Syrian forces again late on Saturday, according to a military source quoted by RIA Novosti. The attack targeted the town of Deir Jamal in the Aleppo Governorate.
The agency also cited details of an earlier attack on Syrian government army positions in northwestern Latakia.
“Turkey’s artillery opened fire on the positions of the Syrian Army in the vicinity of Aliya mountain in the northwestern part of the province of Latakia,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the Turkish shelling of Kurdish positions continued for more than three hours almost uninterruptedly, a Kurdish source told RT, adding that the Turkish forces are using mortars and missiles and firing from the Turkish border not far from the city of Azaz in the Aleppo Governorate.
The shelling targeted the Menagh military air base and the nearby village of Maranaz, where “many civilians were wounded,” local journalist Barzan Iso told RT. He added that Kurdish forces and their allies among “the Syrian democratic forces” had taken control of the air base on Thursday.
According to Iso, the Menagh base had previously been controlled by the Ahrar ash-Sham Islamist rebel group, which seized it in August of 2013. The journalist also added that Ahrar ash-Sham militants at the base had been supported by Al-Nusra terrorists and some extremist groups coming from Turkey.
Ahrar ash-Sham is a militant group that has trained teenagers to commit acts of terror in Damascus, Homs, and Latakia provinces, according to data provided to the Russian Defense Ministry by Syrian opposition forces.
The group, which has intensified its attacks on the Syrian government forces since January, was getting “serious reinforcements from Turkey,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a briefing in Moscow on January 21.
A source in the Turkish government confirmed to Reuters that the Turkish military had shelled Kurdish militia targets near Azaz on Saturday.
“The Turkish Armed Forces fired shells at PYD positions in the Azaz area,” the source said, referring to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara views as a terrorist group.
A Turkish security official told Reuters that the shelling of the Kurds had been a response to a shelling of Turkish border military outposts by the PYD and forces loyal to Damascus, as required under Turkish military rules of engagement.
Turkey’s PM Davutoglu also confirmed that the country’s forces had struck Syrian Kurdish fighters and demanded that the Kurds retreat from all of the areas that they had recently seized.
“The YPG will immediately withdraw from Azaz and the surrounding area and will not go close to it again,” he told reporters, adding that Turkey “will retaliate against every step [by the YPG],” Reuters reports.
A Kurdish official confirmed to Reuters that the shelling had targeted the Menagh air base located south of Azaz.
According to the official, the base had been captured by the Jaysh al-Thuwwar rebel group, which is an ally of PYD and a member of the Syria Democratic Forces alliance.
Syrian Kurds are actively engaged in the fight against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group and have been recently described as “some of the most successful” forces fighting IS jihadists in Syria by US State Department spokesman John Kirby, AFP reports.
Earlier, the US also called the PYD an “important partner” in the fight against Islamic State, adding that US support of the Kurdish fighters “will continue.”
Turkey’s shelling of the Syrian Kurds comes just days after a plan to end hostilities in Syria was presented in Munich after a meeting of the so-called International Syria Support Group (ISSG), in which Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, and UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura participated.
‘We will strike PYD’ – Turkish PM
Earlier on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu threatened Syrian Kurds with military action, saying that Turkey will resort to force against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) if it considers the step “necessary.”
“As I have said, the link between the YPG and the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK is obvious. If the YPG threatens our security, then we will do what is necessary,” Davutoglu said on February 10, as quoted by the Hurriyet Daily.
“The leadership cadre and ideology of the PKK and PYD is the same,” he argued in a televised speech in the eastern city of Erzincan on Saturday, AFP reports.
Davutoglu also said that if there is a threat to Turkey, “we will strike PYD like we did Qandil,” referring to a bombing campaign waged by Turkey against the PKK in its Qandil mountain stronghold in northern Iraq, Daily Sabah reports.
Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the YPG, as affiliates of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decade-long insurgency against Turkish authorities, demanding autonomy for Turkish Kurds.
The latest developments come as Turkey continues a relentless crackdown on Kurds in its southeastern region. Ankara launched a military operation against Kurdish insurgents from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in July of 2015, breaking a ceasefire signed in 2013.
Turkey’s General Staff claim that Turkish forces killed more than 700 PKK rebels during the offensive in the southeastern districts of Cizre and Sur. Meanwhile, Amnesty International has reported that at least 150 civilians, including women in children, were killed in the Turkish military operation, adding that over 200,000 lives have been put at risk.
According to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation, at least 198 civilians, including 39 children, have been murdered in the area since August of 2015.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Ankara to investigate reports that a number of unarmed people trying to attend to the injured victims of clashes in Turkey’s southeast in late January were themselves shot at.
Ten people were injured when their group, which included two opposition politicians, came under fire while trying to help people injured in earlier clashes in the southeastern town of Cizre in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast on January 20.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein described as “extremely shocking” footage filmed of the incident, which purportedly shows what appear to be a man and woman holding white flags and pushing a cart – possibly carrying bodies – across a street before being shot.
“As they reach the other side, they are apparently cut down in a hail of gunfire,” Zeid said in a statement.
He also expressed concern that the cameraman, who was injured in the shooting, may face arrest under a “clampdown on media.”
Turkey has been engaged in a large-scale campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party in its southern border region in the past few months. The Turkish military has also been conducting offensives against the positions of the group in northern Iraq.
The operations began in the wake of a deadly July bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc. More than 30 people died in the attack, which the Turkish government blamed on Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.
After the bombing, the PKK militants, who accused the government in Ankara of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.
US Vice President Joe Biden says the US and Turkey are prepared for military solutions in Syria if a political settlement cannot be found. He added that Washington recognizes the Kurdistan Workers’ Party is as much of a threat to Ankara as Islamic State.
“We do know it would better if we can reach a political solution but we are prepared …, if that’s not possible, to have a military solution to this operation and taking out Daesh,” Biden said at a news conference after a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, as cited by Reuters. ‘Daesh’ is an Arabic term for Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS/ISIL).
A US official later clarified that Biden was talking about a military solution to IS, not Syria as a whole.
Biden added that he discussed with Davutoglu how the two allies could try and work together to support Syrian rebel groups who oppose President Bashar Assad. The US vice president backed Ankara in its battle with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), saying it was as much of a threat to Ankara as Islamic State, and that Turkey must do everything necessary to protect its citizens.
However, the pair disagreed about the status of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria, with Biden saying there is a difference between the PYD and PKK.
“To say that these [groups] are separate, one should be unaware that those [PKK] guns are coming to [Turkey] from Syria,” Davutoglu said, according to Reuters.
Ankara believes the Syrian Kurds are looking to create a corridor along the northern border with Turkey, which would cut off Turkey from sharing a boundary with Syria.
“The PYD is a terrorist organization that cooperates with the Syrian regime. Struggling against Daesh does not grant them legitimacy,” the Turkish prime minister said.
Turkey has carried out attacks on Kurdish forces in northern Syria. In late July, the Kurds said they had been bombed at least four times, with civilians being among the casualties. Ankara maintained its airstrikes were aimed at members of the PKK.
Kurdish fighters have proved to be some of the most effective forces in helping to combat Islamic State in northern Syria, while borders in territories under its control have been sealed to stop the flow of foreign IS militants into Syria.
On Friday, Biden said Turkey’s intimidation of the media, curtailing of internet freedom and accusations of treason made against academics was not setting a good example in the Middle East.
“The more Turkey succeeds, the stronger the message sent to the entire Middle East and parts of the world who are only beginning to grapple with the notion of freedom,” Biden mentioned.
“But when the media are intimidated or imprisoned for critical reporting, when internet freedom is curtailed and social media sites like YouTube or Twitter are shut down and more than 1,000 academics are accused of treason simply by signing a petition, that’s not the kind of example that needs to be set,” he said.
Turkey’s top higher education authority vowed to take measures against academics who signed a letter calling to stop military operations against Kurdish militants, local media reported Wednesday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sharply criticized the so-called Academicians for Peace group, accusing them of undermining Turkey’s national security after their declaration was read at press conferences in Istanbul and Ankara on Monday.
After an urgent meeting, Turkey’s Higher Education Board issued a statement saying that the institution would do whatever it took regarding the academics, Today’s Zaman newspaper reported. The body does not have the authority to directly punish the academics, but could pressure university administrations to do so, according to the paper.
Over 1,000 academics from 89 Turkish universities have signed a declaration urging to end the ongoing fighting between Ankara forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.
The declaration calls on the government to restore a peace process with the PKK that was abandoned in July 2015.
The Kurds, Turkey’s largest ethnic minority, have been striving to gain independence from Turkey. The PKK, founded in the late 1970s to promote the self-determination for the Kurdish community, is designated as a terrorist group by Ankara.
Severe clashes between Ankara forces and PKK militants have been arising sporadically since a July terror attack in the city of Suruc, which killed over 30 people, most of them Kurds. As Kurds killed two Turkish policemen in what has been said to be a retaliation strike, Ankara launched a military campaign against the group.
VAN – 12 youths aged between 18-25 have been executed as a result of a house-raid conducted by Turkish terrorists in the central Edremit district of Van province early this morning. ID details of the youths remain unknown.
HDP Van MP Lezgin Botan who spoke to ANF about the incident said bodies of 12 youths, all aged 18-25, have been taken to a hospital morgue. Botan said the youths were shot in the head, and described the incident as not a clash but mass execution. He added that police forces have blockaded the scene of the executions and hospital where youths are being held now.
HDP Van deputy Tugba Hezer told that; “Apart from one, all have been shot in the head. They are all young people in civilian clothes, as has been conveyed to us by those who saw the bodies. Not every single one of them can possible be shot in the head during a clash. It is not possible. This is a mass execution. Police have evacuated and entirely blockaded the hospital.”
Police disperse protesters in Turkey’s east, deputy injured
VAN, eastern Turkey – Police dispersed protesters who were staging a sit-in against a Jan. 10 police raid into a house of militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the eastern province of Van’s Edremit district on Jan. 11, detaining many.
Members of the provincial center of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) gathered in front of its headquarters to make a press statement as some shopkeepers in the district also refused to open their shops to protest the recent police raid. HDP provincial organization members staged a sit-in before the statement. However, police dispersed the crowd with pressurized water and detained a number of protesters.
Meanwhile, HDP Van deputy Lezgin Botan was injured during the police action and has been reported to be in good condition.
Police special forces raided a two-story house around 5 a.m. on Jan. 10, following a tip-off that its occupants were planning a large-scale attack in Van. Twelve suspected PKK militants in the house, along with an officer identified as Önder Ertas, were killed in the raid, which also injured two other officers, as the security forces seized weapons and ammunition in the house.
In five months of battling the Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey, Ankara has killed over 160 civilians, according to a rights group report. Among them was an unborn child, whose mother was shot.
In August, Ankara launched a ground operation to crack down on Kurdish fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The violence ended a two-year truce with the Kurdish militants, who have been fighting a guerrilla war for independence for decades. An estimated 10,000 Turkish troops armed with heavy weapons and armored vehicles, including tanks, were deployed.
Since August 16, Turkish troops have imposed at least 58 curfews in Kurdish regions, disrupting the lives of some 1.4 million people living in the affected provinces, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) said. Some lasted 10 hours or less, but others went on for days and weeks, and some are still ongoing. The curfews affected 19 districts in the provinces of Batman, Diyarbakır, Elazıg, Hakkari, Mardin, Mus and Sırnak.
While the curfews have been in place, at least 162 civilians have been killed. The death toll includes 29 women, 32 children, and 24 elderly people. One of the victims in the city of Cizre in Sırnak Province was an unborn child, who was killed by a gunshot to his mother’s womb, the group said. The mother, Guler Yanalak, was seven month’s pregnant at the time and reportedly survived the injury.
The HRFT said at least 22 people were killed in their homes, some of them from heavy weapons used by the fighting sides. Four people were reported to have been killed in areas where no curfews had been declared. The violence against civilians appears to have escalated since December 11, the group said, with 79 civilian deaths reported since then.
The PKK, founded in 1978, has been fighting the Turkish state for Kurdish self-determination since 1984. Kurds make up between 10 percent and 25 percent of Turkey’s population. In late December, a congress of Kurdish non-governmental organizations called for Turkey’s southeastern regions to be granted autonomy via constitutional reforms.
The escalation of violence in Turkey came two months after the Kurdish militia in Syria, known as the YPG, as well as the Turkish pro-Kurdish party, the HDP, accused Ankara of aiding Islamic State in their offensive on Kurdish territories in Syria. At the time, the terrorists were laying siege to the Kurdish border town of Kobani.
Ankara has been stepping up its military operations on the border with Syria and Iraq since December. The area is a stronghold of the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to continue the operation until the area is cleansed of Kurdish militants.
Police in Istanbul have raided a district office of Turkey’s main opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Turkish media reports said on Friday that several people were detained and party documents seized during the two-hour raid at the Beyoglu headquarters of the HDP.
The co-chair of the district branch, Rukiye Demir, was among the detainees.
Turkish authorities have stepped up pressure on the HDP while Ankara’s military apparatus has been engaged in a security operation against suspected militants in the Kurdish-majority south and southeast of the country in the recent past, running offensives against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants all the way into northern Iraq.
Turkish authorities accuse the HDP of acting as the political arm of the PKK.
Turkey and countries such as the United States and Britain consider the PKK as a terrorist group. The HDP strongly denies any links with the militants.
On July 20, 2015, a bomb attack in the southern Kurdish-majority town of Suruc claimed more than 30 lives. The Turkish government blamed it on the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group. After the bombing, the PKK, accusing the government of supporting Daesh, engaged in a series of supposed reprisal attacks against Turkish police and security forces, in turn prompting the Turkish military operations.
Ankara said Thursday that 305 PKK militants have been killed since December 14, 2015, when its security operation intensified.
The militant group has been fighting for an autonomous Kurdish region inside Turkey since 1980s.
Inconsistency is common in politicians, who one day decry ‘state terror’ against citizens and some two decades later send tanks against those same people to ‘impose curfews’.
A report published in a Turkish daily newspaper demonstrates the dramatic change in the stated political policy of Recep Tayyip Erdogan since 1991.
The Hurriet published passages from a 90-page report on the “Kurdish issue,” composed by Erdogan while he was an official with the conservative Islamist Refah (Welfare) party in his hometown of Istanbul.
In the report, requested by his party’s leadership, Erdogan clearly denounced Turkish military operations in the Kurdish southeast, referring to them as acts of “state terror” against “Kurdish people.”
Erdogan, at the time, wrote that because “the Kurdish issue” is a “national question,” the correct way to resolve it is “by recognizing Kurdish language as an independent language and which has no relations to the Turkish language.”
But by 2016, some 25 years later and with Erdogan as the boss, Kurds are not necessarily forbidden to learn their mother tongue, but several letters of the Kurdish alphabet are outlawed in Turkey and the number of schools providing education in Kurdish and other minority languages is very small.
“What is called ‘the Southeastern issue’ is, in essence, the Kurdish question, which is no doubt a national question. These areas, which are labeled as Southeast, have since the dawn of history been called Kurdistan,” Erdogan said in 1991. “This region has suffered twice, from PKK assaults since 1985 and at the same time it has been subjected to state terror which has targeted the population for allegedly supporting the PKK.”
In 2016, as the president of the Turkish Republic and playing a nationalist card, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is singing a different song.
“You will be annihilated in those houses, those buildings, those ditches which you have dug,” Erdogan has pronounced recently, referring to trenches created by Kurdish fighters in many southeastern cities. “Our security forces will continue this fight until it has been completely cleansed and a peaceful atmosphere established.”
Many politicians and experts worldwide have described Erdogan’s ongoing military operation against Kurds as “state terror,” a comparison not lost on students of recent Turkish political history.
Some 200 civilians have been killed during recent blockades and attacks by Turkish government forces. Over 100,000 people have reportedly been displaced in ongoing military actions in Turkey’s majority-Kurdish southeast.
Severe clashes between Ankara forces and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), alongside popular resistance units, have arisen since a July terror attack in the city of Suruc which killed over 30 people, most of them Kurds. After Kurds killed two Turkish policemen they claimed were affiliated with Daesh soon after the attack, Ankara launched a military campaign against PKK and self-defense units. The clashes intensified in December 2015 in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, with curfews imposed in numerous Kurdish areas across the southeast.
Kurdish neighborhoods in Silopi and Diyarbakir are under attack from Turkish military forces. Heavy tank bombardment in civilian areas is being reported.
On the 20th day of a curfew, several Silopi neighborhoods in southeastern Turkey have come under heavy gunfire from tanks and armored vehicles, according to local media.
“Residents are trying to find shelter in safe areas as the neighborhoods, which house thousands, are being targeted by heavy fire from tanks and armored vehicles that have surrounded the area under curfew,” ANF News described.
The Kurdish neighborhoods of Barbaros, Basak and Zap have introduced self-rule and have strong local self-defense, including YDG-H youth units, who are resisting government forces attempting to impose the curfew, ANF News reported. YDG-H, or Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement, was founded in 2013 by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) youth members.
“People struggling with hunger and thirst take shelter in the basements of their houses. No passages are allowed out of the blockade,” People’s Democratic Party of Turkey, (HDP) reported on Saturday.
A local Kurdish official, Emine Esmer, a co-mayor of Silopi, was taken into custody and released while investigating a water shortage in the municipality, according to BestaNews.com.
Reports from the Kurdish district of Sur in Diyarbakir, also under curfew, say that tank bombardments in the residential areas intensified on Saturday, with two people injured, according to Jin News Agency.
The HDP reports that almost 200 people have been killed during the blockade and attacks by Turkish government forces. Over 100,000 people have reportedly been displaced in ongoing military actions in Turkey’s majority-Kurdish southeast.
ANKARA – Some 100,000 people have been displaced due to armed clashes between Turkish security forces and militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the country’s majority-Kurdish southeastern regions, Turkey’s Interior Ministry said on Thursday.
Severe clashes between Ankara forces and PKK militants have been arising sporadically since a July terror attack in the city of Suruc, which killed over 30 people, most of them Kurds. As Kurds killed two Turkish policemen soon after the attack, Ankara launched a military campaign against PKK. The clashes intensified earlier this week in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir.
The Turkish forces’ operations are being carried out in the southeastern districts of Diyarbakir, Silopi, Silvan, Sur and Cizre, where the PKK has a strong presence.
The authorities also declared a police curfew in area most affected by the armed clashes, with a population of 1.3 million civilians.
Over 100,000 of them have been forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing violence and domestic hardships, according to an Interior Ministry report that was cited by the Hurriyet newspaper.
According to the ministry, the security forces have taken control of eight of the 13 high-risk areas where the PKK militants were trying to establish autonomous areas, not controlled by the central government.
The Kurds, Turkey’s largest ethnic minority, are striving to create their own independent state and gain independence from Turkey. The PKK was founded in the late 1970s to promote the self-determination for the Kurdish community. The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey.
The Kurdish struggle for independence gave rise to a conflict between Ankara and various Kurdish militant groups that has been ongoing since 1984.