Erdoğan bids to slaughter more Kurds as part of re-election campaign


Syria’s Kurds face new Turkish threat as Erdoğan’s re-election campaign looms. Writes Paul Antonopoulos

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has finally given the greenlight for Sweden and Finland to become NATO members, but this comes at the price of renewed persecution and slaughter of Kurds. The two Scandinavian countries made their NATO membership intentions clear shortly after Russia began its military operation in Ukraine on February 24. What was not immediately anticipated though was the demands that Turkey would make, including the handing over of individuals that they claim are terrorists in the context of what appears to be an impending invasion of territories controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

As Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Hişyar Özsoy said in an interview with the Mezopotamya Agency, Finland and Sweden now also have their own Kurdish issue to contend with. For example, Sweden has a small Kurdish community of some 100,000 people, in which a significant portion are political refugees and asylum seekers. Ankara demands they be returned to face terrorism charges as anti-terrorism laws in Scandinavia, in their view, are too lax.

Will Sweden and Finland succumb to such Turkish pressure for the sake of NATO membership, thus undermining their own so-called values and principles?

Danish Member of the European Parliament for The Red and Green Alliance tweeted: “So Sweden and Finland wants to join NATO because they feel pressured by an oppressive Russia that violates international law. But in order to join they need to submit to the demands of Erdoğan that violates international law and oppress his people. You can’t make this s### up!”

Under a memorandum signed at the NATO summit in Madrid on June 28, Finland and Sweden agreed to address Turkey’s “pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly”, with “bilateral legal frameworks to facilitate extradition”. Turkey demands the handover of persons they believe are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and their Syrian branch, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which leads the SDF. They also demand the handover of supporters of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who is blamed by Erdoğan for the failed 2016 coup attempt.

According to Murat Yeşiltaş of pro-government think tank Seta, if Ankara’s demands are rejected, it could withdraw its support for the Scandinavian nations’ accession to NATO. Keeping in mind that the parliaments in all 30 NATO countries will need to approve Sweden and Finland as members, Turkish lawmakers could block their accession, as Yeşiltaş explained, if they feel that the “dignity of the Turkish parliament” is being violated.

None-the-less, Ankara’s push for extradition may be a re-election strategy as Erdoğan’s popularity continues to diminish in face of major economic problems that are not being dealt with. This also explains why it is seemingly evident that Turkey is pushing for a large-scale military operation in Northern Syria to defeat the SDF – to distract citizens from domestic issues.

Erdoğan has been warning for months that Ankara will target “terrorist” Kurdish militia groups in at least two Syrian cities close to the Turkish border – Tal Rifaat and Manbij. However, in rare unison, Washington, Moscow and Tehran have all condemned the Turkish plan to invade more Syrian cities.

With anti-immigrant sentiments continuing to rise in Turkey amid new arrivals from Syria, defeating the SDF has become a major priority as a means to being able to return refugees. Erdoğan hopes to resettle Arab refugees close to its border to manufacture a demographic change and weaken the Kurdish element in the region that could forcibly forge an independence.

Keeping in mind that Erdoğan is up for re-election in 2023, the seemingly impending Turkish military operation comes amid economic hardships, energy concerns, anti-immigrant sentiment and rising violence against women. The Turkish president in the past has manufactured foreign policy crises to gain votes ahead of elections by stirring ultra-nationalist sentiments against Turkey’s traditional enemies, such as Greece, Armenia and Israel.

It is recalled that Erdoğan does not hold a majority in parliament and is in a coalition with the ultra-nationalist and racist MHP party. The MHP is the political wing of the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves organization that was established by the CIA’s anti-communist Operation Gladio during the Cold War and is responsible for various massacres of ethnic and religious minorities in Turkey. Erdoğan was already an extremist, but the coalition with MHP propels Turkey to new heights of extremism.

Due to this, it is almost guaranteed that the Turkish parliament will not approve of Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership unless every demand made by Erdoğan is met – including the end of their support for the Kurds, which in turn will open a way for Turkey to invade more areas of Northern Syria with limited opposition or condemnation as the two Scandinavian countries are seemingly willing to submit to the demands of Erdoğan that violates international law and oppresses his people.

Paul Antonopoulos, independent geopolitical analyst.


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