A significant element in Erdoğan’s calculations is that he can promote a climate of fear to enable the AKP to secure a parliamentary majority in any new elections.
Tensions have flared with Kurds in recent days after an Islamic State suicide bombing in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc on Monday killed 32 people. On the July 23, a Turkish soldier was killed by ISIL militants in the border town of Kilis and Turkey responded by killing an ISIL fighter and destroying a few vehicles.
U.S. officials said that Obama administration confirmed a Turkish demand to set up a coalition-protected “safe zone” in Syria’s north.
Lara Fatah, a Kurdish affairs specialist and co-founder of Zanraw Consulting based in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, said any further military response by the PKK would play into the hands of the Turkish government and give Erdogan a justification to act against them. The attack led the government to launch a campaign against hundreds of suspected militants.
The raids have also struck Kurdish militants in Iraq. Maybe. Is he actively supporting the other big Islamist group, the Nusra Front, which dominates the battle in western Syria?
The 90-minute meeting in Brussels was preparation for a full blown North Atlantic Treaty Organisation war for regime-change in Syria.
“That would sort of dissolve the alliance, the coalition against ISIS, and certainly do nothing to strengthen the larger opposition cohesion that we’d love to see form in general”, Ricciardone stated. These include the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria whose men have been fighting IS with the backing of US air strikes for months, particularly in the flashpoint town of Kobane. “The majority of people in Turkey, including many Kurds, find PKK extremely provocative and violent”, said Fikret Gulcer, an Istanbul-based specialist on the banned group.
President Erdogan proposed peace negotiations with Kurdish representatives in 2012.
While the peace initiative between Ankara and the Kurds has not been formally terminated, the process appears to be hanging by a thread.
On Sunday night, Turkish fighter jets hit PKK targets in northern Iraq.
The government in Baghdad has meanwhile slammed Turkey’s “violation of Iraqi sovereignty” and called for a de-escalation. For the first time, a party linked to the Kurds is represented in Turkey’s national assembly. The United States are reluctant to aid the Turks in carving out what they claim would be a humanitarian “safe zone” in the northwest of Syria but what looks like an attempt to block the country’s Kurds from linking up the various territories they control. He told VOA that President Erdogan may be using the current situation partly for political purposes.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan throws flowers to his supporters next to his wife Emine during his visit in Cologne May 24, 2014.
“The more global emergencies, the more that voters are likely to think we need a good, strong, stable government”, says Sinan Ciddi, a visiting assistant professor at Georgetown University.
Erdogan and the AKP worry that those advances will embolden Turkey’s own 14 million Kurdish minority and rekindle a three-decade insurgency by the PKK, deemed a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and Europe. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, however, rejected the call, saying that would not happen until the party distances itself from the rebels and the PKK withdraws its armed fighters from Turkey’s territory.
“It is obvious that Erdogan is using the horrifying terror image of ISIS to justify his attacks on the PKK”, said Hazal Arda, a leftist activist, using another acronym for Islamic State. Despite U.S. training, Iraq’s military has been slow to take the advantage.
“By carrying out the recent attacks, Turkey has practically and unilaterally ended the state of non-conflict and the peace process”, said Zagros Hiwa, the spokesperson for the Kurdish Communities Union, the PKK’s political wing, from Iraq’s Qandil Mountains, where Turkish bombing raids continue.
But Sinan Ciddi is warning that the two air campaigns could hurt President Erdogan.
The agreement comes as Turkey also takes military action against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, a move some analysts see as tacitly approved by Washington in exchange for the Incirlik deal.