Turkey’s clumsy politics and the Kurdish question

Cengiz Aktar writes: As the US-led war on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gathers steam, there has been a great deal of speculation over the role Turkey might play in the campaign. Ankara kept a low profile while 49 of its nationals were held hostage by ISIL in Mosul. Since their release on September 20, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made statements affirming Turkey’s commitment to take part in the campaign.

Yet Ankara’s ISIL policy is not only ambiguous in the eyes of many but appears at odds with its regional Kurdish policy. Conflicting statements made by various Turkish officials do not help either. For instance on September 28, a deputy of the ruling AKP party Yalcin Akdogan declared that he thought the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), an armed Kurdish group from Turkey, should fight ISIL instead of resting in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan where they are currently based.

Well, it so happens that the PKK has been engaged in this fight for some time, supporting the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds in their battles against ISIL. Not to mention, the irony of a Turkish deputy calling for assistance from a group still designated as “terrorist” by the government – especially when on that same day, the president makes a statement comparing PKK to ISIL. This, despite the “peace talks” Erdogan himself inaugurated in January 2013 to resolve the festering decades-long conflict with the PKK. [Continue reading…]

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