Yet another day and another article full of errors, distortions, and outright lies about Turkey and its multi-front war on terror.

A recent article published on Huffington Post states:

But we don’t stand with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose obsession with destroying the Kurds politically enabled ISIS to kill Turks over the past few months, as well as last night.

 

Erdogan doesn’t have any obsession with destroying the Kurds politically. If he had such an obsession, he wouldn’t have started the solution process in the past, and the HDP, the Kurdish party, wouldn’t have been a stakeholder throughout that process. Since the Kurdish insurgency started in the 1980s, the only way the Turkish state handled situation was the military option. A political solution to the problem was almost unthinkable until Erdogan started the negotiations with rebel leader Öcalan in 2012.

 

The article “connects the dots” to prove that the reason for the current conflict is because of HDP’s achievements in June 2015 general elections:

… the HDP did well enough to deny Erdogan’s party a majority for the first time in more than a decade. Then the gloves came off, and war was waged against the Kurds later that year, with policies receiving international condemnation.

 

Yes, chronologically speaking, “the war” was waged after the elections, but who and what caused the collapse of the solution process and Turkey-PKK ceasefire is another story. There were two key events that led to the military operations after collapse of the peace talks. The first, on 12 July 2015, the KCK, the transnational body of Kurdish organizations that includes the PKK and YPG, declared the end of three-year-long ceasefire. And the second, on 22 July 2015, the PKK claimed responsibility for killing two Turkish police officers in Şanlıurfa, Ceylanpınar. It was only after these events that Turkish fighter jets started bombing Qandil, the mountainous region in Northern Iraq where the PKK’s main base resides.

 

As a side note, the Turkey’s policies have been taken to the European Court of Human Rights, and the decision was in favor of Turkey.

 

The next paragraph tells us the surge of votes for AKP in the next (snap) election was because of the votes taken from nationalistic MHP:

Erdogan never missed a chance to link the HDP to the PKK, a group regarded by many as a terrorist organisation, in his bid for a new election later in 2015. He may not have succeeded in destroying the HDP in that election, but his AKP took votes from the nationalistic MHP in order to win that governing coalition.

It is true that the MHP lost 2 million of votes to AKP, all over Turkey. But it is also true that, around 1.2 million HDP voters  switched to the AKP for the snap election. Kurds were accustomed to peace throughout the years of the solution process, and they were not happy with the PKK’s recent activities in their neighborhoods and towns. Erdogan didn’t destroy the HDP, but the PKK did.

 

The article continues with two utterly false claims:

Two blasts even wiped out hundreds of Kurds at a peaceful political rally. But Erdogan’s Prime Minister pointed the finger at the Kurds, illogically accusing them of killing their own people.

Erdogan didn’t point a finger at the Kurds, and there is no such statement even in the news article linked. The only statement that looks similar to this claim is by Davutoglu, the PM at the time, who said “Islamic State, Kurdish, or far-leftist militants could have carried out the bombing.”

The PKK is a terrorist group, and there is no reason to rule out the possibility of a terrorist group killing “their own people.” In fact they did kill “their own people” in Dürümlü, Diyarbakır in May 2016.

 

And the next sentence in the article expects everyone to accept this premise: “There is a war against Kurds in Turkey, so there should be a peace with them.” This leads to an obvious question, if there is such a war, how come AKP increased its votes among Kurds? The fact is, the war is against a terrorist organisation, not against Kurds:

They’ve arrested scores of domestic dissenters and blasted academics pushing for peace with the Kurds.

The problem in Turkey is no longer a Kurdish problem, but rather a PKK problem. The PKK wanted to take advantage of the civil war in Syria, and tried to use the techniques they learned in Syria via their sister organizations like the YPG against Turkey. And Turkey is fighting against a terrorist organization, not against its own Kurdish people.

At the same time, Turkey was given permission to bomb ISIS in Syria. But that never happened. Instead, Turkey used that NATO base to strike at Syrian Kurd (YPG and the PYD), a group that was actually fighting ISIS on the ground.

This contradicts with the facts. Turkey did bomb ISIS in Syria, and not just from “that NATO base” (referring to Incirlik). And about YPG and the PYD — they are linked to the PKK, and even US knows this, but they choose simply to close their eyes to this fact. The fact that the US, or West, chose the PYD as the lesser of two evils in Syria, doesn’t mean that Turkey has to do the same while both ISIS and the PKK are engaging in numerous attacks in Turkey throughout the last year.

 

Media censorship on the ground after each bombing inhibited the ability of the press to find the real culprits: ISIS, or maybe some other shadowy element interested in killing Kurds.

Belgian authorities requested media black-outs twice, one during operations against ISIS, and another to refrain from reporting on the probe into the triple bomb attacks in Brussels. This is not media censorship, but a security measure.  In Turkey, the “censorship” extended only to pictures of corpses or bloodied victims, a thoroughly rational restriction. Finally, the police and other security organizations are the institutions charged with “finding the culprits,” not journalists.

 

Moreover, There are analyses, written by independent journalists, about why ISIS attacks Turkey. Although, to my knowledge, there is no article claiming that ISIS can’t be the perpetrator, and if one had any information that would support such a claim, there would have been nothing to prevent them from publishing such a story.

Even as the finger was pointed at YPG and the PYD, the group denied responsibility for the bombings. Instead, some nebulous group called “Kurdistan Freedom Falcons”, accused of being Kurdish, swooped in to “take the credit” for each kill.

 

This is exactly what PKK wants you, Western people, to think. They want you to think that the PKK doesn’t engage in any attack against civilians, that they are romantic guerrillas, every one a Che Guevara, fighting for the freedom of the Kurdish people, and their only enemy is Turkish soldiers, etc. The reality is that the PKK has purposefully created multiple organizations with various acronyms, which makes it confusing to list all the abbreviations that the PKK and its derivatives deliver their massacres under. As Ahmet Davutoglu once put it: “The claim of responsibility by TAK, a PKK splinter group, aims to divert attention from the YPG. Whether it’s KCK, YPG, PKK, TAK or PJAK, they are all part of the same terrorist structure.”

 

Some claim that Erdogan is really in league with ISIS, or wouldn’t mind if the group, an enemy of his petty rival Bashir al-Assad in Syria, succeeded. At a minimum, Erdogan’s guilty of incompetence, letting ISIS get away with murder while he plays party politics.

The patient zero of the Syrian conflict is no one other than Bashar al-Assad. He is responsible for all the crimes in Syria. If his murderous policies didn’t lead to a civil war, ISIS wouldn’t have gained ground in Syria in the first place. Erdogan demanded a no-fly-zone over Northern and Central Syria in 2012 that would have prevented the Assad regime from bombing rebels, and this would have changed the whole picture in the battleground. Most probably ISIS would never have gained control over large areas in Syria. Instead of a NFZ, the West didn’t intervene in the Syrian civil war until ISIS emerged in the region and threatened the security of Western countries, and Syrian refugees came to the door of Europe.

 

No one should expect Turkey to go war with Syria, which would drag the country to an unknown future, while Iranians, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, and numerous other powers are active in the current civil war. Erdogan’s task for Turkey is “don’t do stupid shit,” as Obama thinks as the first task of an American president in the post-Bush international arena. Existence of an enormous Turkish army doesn’t mean Turkey has the resources or reasons to throw it in the middle of a conflict in the Middle East. Stability to Syria can’t come from outside of the country, but from within. ISIS is a by-product of the civil war in Syria, and ending the war as soon as possible when it was started, instead of letting both sides destroy each other, would have been the best way of preventing ISIS. We don’t have that option any more.
Turkey couldn’t have prevented the war, nor could it have ended it, but the country is doing what it can do for the victims of the civil war. Since the war started in Syria in 2011, Turkey accepted millions of refugees with its open door policy — in the meantime Europe was looking for ways to close their borders to the refugees.

Mehmet Melik Köse
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