Turkey’s Erdogan says no to Syrian Kurdistan


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country opposes the idea of a Kurdish-controlled autonomous government in northern Syria.

His comments came as Kurdish militia drove the ISIS insurgents from the Syrian town of Kobani just across the Turkish border and raised their flags Monday, in a heavy blow to jihadis after months of intensive fighting.

„We do not want a new Iraq. What’s this? Northern Iraq,“ Erdogan told Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper aboard a plane en route from an African tour at the weekend. He was referring to the Kurdish-controlled part of Iraq known as Iraqi Kurdistan.

„A northern Syria there after northern Iraq… It is not possible for us to accept this,“ he said.

„Such formations will lead to grave problems in the future.“

Kurdish forces gradually pushed back ISIS militants who have captured large chunks of territory in Iraq and Syria, with the help of the US-led air raids and a group of fighters from Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

Turkey, which has fought a 30-year insurgency against Kurdish rebels in its southeast, has hesitated to act for Kobani over fears it could embolden Kurdish forces.

Erdogan has in the past said that his country will not allow „a terrorist group to establish camps in northern Syria“ and threaten Turkey.

Ankara blacklists the rebel Kurdistan Workers‘ Party (PKK) — which uses its safe havens in northern Iraq as a springboard for deadly attacks on its soil — as a terrorist organization and sees the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a Syrian branch of the PKK.

Turkey has refused to play a robust role in the US-led coalition against the ISIS jihadis, prompting its own Kurds to take to streets in October in two days of street clashes that left 30 dead.

Turkey’s sole contribution to the coalition has been allowing a contingent of Iraqi Peshmerga Kurdish fighters to transit Turkish soil to fight ISIS militants in Kobani.

The Kurds are the world’s largest stateless people, spread between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey after missing out on a state of their own in the border changes after World War I.

In recent years, Turkey has enjoyed burgeoning trade and energy ties with the Iraqi Kurdish region, while at home Ankara has started a peace process with its sizable Kurdish minority with an ultimate goal of disarming PKK rebels.

Erdogan also renewed his call for a no-fly zone in Syria and criticized what he said was a failure by fellow NATO member the US to target the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Washington is „not keen on any action that targets the regime,“ Erdogan said. „Then there cannot be any solution.“

The Daily Star

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