News / Europe

Turkish Kurds Want Ankara to Declare Stance on ISIL

Turkish Kurdish men chat in the village of Doruklu, in the border town of Silopi, near the Turkish-Iraqi border, July 5, 2014. Turkish Kurdish men chat in the village of Doruklu, in the border town of Silopi, near the Turkish-Iraqi border, July 5, 2014.
Turkish Kurdish men chat in the village of Doruklu, in the border town of Silopi, near the Turkish-Iraqi border, July 5, 2014.
Turkish Kurdish men chat in the village of Doruklu, in the border town of Silopi, near the Turkish-Iraqi border, July 5, 2014.
Dorian Jones

The leadership of the Kurdish rebel group PKK has called on Ankara to "declare its stance on ISIL."

The PKK is accusing the Turkish government of backing ISIL in its battle against Syrian Kurds. Ankara has blamed the PKK for the deaths of three soldiers this week in a clash on the Syrian border. Concerns are now growing that the deepening tensions concerning the future of the Syrian Kurds could jeopardize peace efforts between the PKK and Ankara. 

In a statement issued by the leadership of the Kurdish rebel group the PKK, it warned the Turkish government its support of the radical Islamic group ISIL was incompatible with ongoing peace efforts.

The PKK claimed Ankara is providing logistical and medical support for ISIL in its battle against Syrian Kurds who declared an autonomous secular region called Rojava. International relations expert Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Centre said, despite denials by Ankara, there is strong evidence of at least tacit support of ISIL.

"Turkey used ISIL and other groups to push its policy regarding Syrian Kurds and it employed ISIL, al-Nusra and al-Qaida offshoots for months if not years as subcontracting fighters," Ankara stated. "Turkey’s western partners were warning Turkey against this dangerous collaboration with radical Islamists." 

Ankara accuses the leadership of the Syrian Kurdish enclave, which borders Turkey’s own predominantly Kurdish region, as being under PKK control, a charge it denies. Observers say there are strong family and tribal ties between the two Kurdish minorities of Syria and Turkey. Many members of the PKK are Syrian Kurds.

Political columnist Asli Aydintasbas of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet says there is considerable support among many of Turkey’s Kurds for the plight of their Syrian kin.

"They are trying to develop local governance there and meanwhile fighting Jihadist and actually Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin from Turkey are crossing the border and going into the Syrian Kurdish territory to fight ISIL there," said Aydintasbas.

According to local media reports, this month nearly 1,000 Kurds from Turkey entered Syria to fight ISIL. Experts say the surge in numbers follows ISIL's launch of a major offensive against the Syrian Kurds, using heavy weapons secured from recent victories against the Iraqi army. Ankara's efforts to beef up its military presence along the Syrian-Kurdish border has only increased tensions and drawn further criticism from both the PKK and pro-Kurdish parties in Turkey.

Earlier this week three Turkish soldiers and six suspected PKK members were killed in a clash on the Syrian border. Despite the rising tension, analyst Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar for the Carnegie Europe institute in Brussels, said the current peace process between Ankara and the PKK will continue for now.

"The peace process in Turkey has its own dynamic, it will not be derailed by what is going on beyond Turkey, that is essentially the two sides are firmly committed to this process, both the Kurdish side but also the Turkish government. And they certainly would not want this process to collapse for factors beyond their control," stated Ulgen.

The peace process between Ankara and the PKK seeks to end a 3-decade-long conflict for greater Kurdish rights.

Although the process remains stalled, the government has promised progress will be made after next month’s presidential elections.

Observers warn patience running out among pro-Kurdish activists, and that a key test of the government’s sincerity is not only over the steps its takes in Turkey but also in neighboring Syria.

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Comment Sorting
by: Agir2014
July 26, 2014 11:56 AM
It is the only Kurds who now fights against the ISIS gangs.It is the Kurds who preserve their dignity and honour in this bloody war. It is the Kurds who displayed great courage and sacrifices without international community support.The Kurds will be victories. The others can play their dirty tricks and behave without any moral integritiy.

by: Xorto from: Amed
July 26, 2014 12:34 AM
A Kurd cannot be Turk at the same time. Unlike Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian which are geographical terms, Turkish refers to a single ethnicity. Therefore, there cannot be "Turkish Kurd" since an individual cannot be Turk and Kurd at the same time. The correct term is "Turkey's Kurds", "Kurds of Turkey" or simply "Turkey Kurds"

by: meanbill from: USA
July 26, 2014 12:13 AM
THE KURDS of Turkey... should ask the Turkey government why they help the US, EU, and NATO countries arm and train the foreign Sunni Muslim fighters, (including the ISIL), to wage war on the Shia Muslim led countries of Syria and Iraq? _ and the Kurds, Christians and almost everybody.... (The Turks should know, why they do it for the US, EU, and NATO countries, shouldn't they?)

by: Not Again from: Canada
July 25, 2014 7:48 PM
In my view, Erdogan is not a trustwhorthy individual, on numerous sit he has turned his back on allies, the worst was his rejection to participate and support its NATO allies, especially support its operations on Turkish soil on Iraq/Afghanistan.
Just before ISIL, now IS took over 1/3 of Iraq, came the takeover of Mosul. The staffing of that Turkish consulate was unusual wrt the number of people; consulates usually carry out adminstrative duties, staffed by small numbers of people. IS captured the staff and relatives, the media indicated large numbers of military personel, soon after the story died.
Who were the turkish staff training? Was the capture stagged for cover? The strangest part, Erdogan is extremely outspoken, threatening, and quite vindictive? not much of this, normally expected behavior was observed and commented by in the media. No movement of Turkish troops were reported in the media towards the Iraqi so on.
All the normal responses from Erdogan, as observed in past similar situations; the entire sit in my view was stagged.
Essentially, I think Erdogan and IS have some form of understanding, maybe it was a forced agreement, maybe not. The fact now, that Erdogan has not stood by his new Kurd "allies" in Syria, I think he has switched from supporting the moderate opposition to Assad, to supporting IS.
Maybe I read more into the sit, than there is; if it proves correct, the entire geopolitical sit in the ME has fundamentally changed for the worse, especially how the US deals with IS once a real unity gvmt is formed in Iraq..

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