Claim: Turkey makes it difficult for West to defeat DAESH

Time to read
3 minutes
Read so far

Claim: Turkey makes it difficult for West to defeat DAESH

2016-01-26 02:41 GMT
Posted in:

Ranj Alaaldin in Independent claims Turkey makes it difficult for the West to defeat DAESH

DAESH convoy

On 15 January 2016, an article was published by Ranj Alaaldin in the Independent about Turkey’s attitude against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and against DAESH. Alaaldin claimed that Turkey poses a direct threat to the West’s fight against DAESH because Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan targets the PKK which is “the most effective, pro-Western anti-ISIS (DAESH) force”.1 He claimed Turkey only hurt DAESH in response to the attack on Istanbul after two years. He also alleged that Erdogan is targeting the PKK and marginalizing the Kurds to rally the nationalist votes for a referendum that would grant him powers of a modern-day Sultan.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intensifies his war on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought the state for political and human rights for the country’s beleaguered twenty million Kurds. Turkey can hurt Isis (DAESH) when it wants to. It has, ostensibly, killed 200 Isis jihadists in response to Tuesday's suicide attack - but this comes after the fourth terrorist attack it has suffered in six months, and almost two years since the international community launched its own campaign against Isis (DAESH). Rather than launch a serious campaign against the terrorist group, as the West and the international community have called upon him to do, Erdogan remains focused on the PKK. That is because Erdogan is in electioneering mode: targeting the PKK and marginalizing the Kurds allows Erdogan to divide the country and rally the nationalist vote ahead of a proposed referendum that could grant him greater powers and the chance to become a modern-day Sultan....

Erdogan will, therefore, go as far as it takes to expand his powers - even if that means more war and bloodshed. The West must intervene and stop Erdogan. If defeating Isis (DAESH) is a priority then that means stopping Turkey from weakening the only real partner the US has in its war on the jihadists. Along with the PYD, the PKK has risen to international acclaim for being the most effective, pro-Western anti-ISIS (DAESH) force... It (Turkey) has become a liability and a destabilizing actor in the region – one that poses a direct threat to the West’s campaign to defeat Isis.

Despite Alaaldin referring to the PKK as a party fighting for political and human rights of twenty million Kurds, it is a militant group considered a terrorist organization by the US, the EU, and NATO as well as Turkey. For the emergent clashes with the PKK, Alaaldin accuses Erdogan of having plans of electioneering to be a Sultan. The referred referendum is not about a sultanate, but a presidential system implemented in many democracies. The ceasefire ended when the PKK's umbrella group, the KCK (the Kurdistan Communities Union), unilaterally announced it to be over on 11 July 2015 and launched attacks afterwards.

In early 2013, the Peace Process between Turkey and the PKK started. The Process sought to end the armed insurgency against Turkish state and replace it with political struggle.2 On 21 March 2013, jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan wrote a letter calling for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of the PKK from Turkey.3 The ceasefire was declared by both parties, however, the armed groups continued to stay in Turkey. During the two-year ceasefire, the PKK warned about ending the ceasefire several times. Eventually, on 11 July 2015, the PKK unilaterally announced that the ceasefire with the Turkish government was over. 4

Since the declaration of the end of the ceasefire, the PKK carried out armed attacks, dug trenches, laid bomb traps and carried out missile strikes against security forces in areas including city centers. Not only security forces but hospitals and schools were also targeted by the PKK.5 Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes. About 1,000 businesses have been closed. Almost 300 security forces and civilians have been killed by the PKK.6 The Turkish government carries out military operations against the PKK headquarters in response to these attacks and due to the PKK’s violations of human rights to live, work and education.

Alaaldin also refers to the PKK-affiliated PYD (Democratic Union Party) as the most effective force against DAESH in Syria. However, there are many other Syrian rebel groups carrying out harsher campaigns against DAESH since early 2014. Some examples are as follows. On 8 January 2014, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) took control of Raqqa from DAESH.7 Syrian opposition and DAESH also battled in Idlib.8 In April 2014, Syrian rebels confronted DAESH in the east of Damascus.9 In May 2014, the FSA and the YPG cooperated against DAESH militants in Syria’s Tel Abyad.10 In August 2014, Syrian rebels fought against DAESH in Aleppo.11 In June 2015, Kurdish militias and Arab rebels fought together against DAESH in Tel Abyad.12 On 10 October 2015, Syrian rebels battled against DAESH in Aleppo and recaptured several villages.13 In October 2015, Syrian rebels freed the village of Tal Jabin in Aleppo province on from DAESH.14

Alaaldin also accuses Turkey of attacking DAESH only after the suicide attack in Istanbul on 12 January 2016. However, Turkey’s fight against DAESH traces back to early 2014. On 24 January 2014, Turkey bombed a DAESH convoy in Syria.15 Turkish air forces hit DAESH targets many times16 and Turkey also allowed the US Air Force to use the Incirlik and Diyarbakir air bases in southern Turkey for their airstrikes against DAESH.17 Turkey also takes its measures and carries out operations domestically and against the borders to prevent foreign fighters intending to join DAESH in Syria from crossing.