On the night of November 18 into 19, the Turkish air force carried out airstrikes in the northern regions of Syria and Iraq, targeting the military formations of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the People’s Self-Defense Units (YPG). Now, according to President Erdoğan’s words, it is only a matter of time before the world sees a land invasion into his Middle Eastern neighbours.
Turkish authorities reported that Kurdish militants were behind the bombing in Istanbul, which left three people dead. On Saturday night, Turkey conducted airstrikes in the northern regions of Syria and Iraq, targeting Kurdish militants. Turkish defence minister claimed the military struck close to 500 Kurdish targets of either the PKK or YPG, both of which are considered terrorist organisations by the government in Ankara. PKK is also considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, among others.
Ankara and Washington, however, have different attitudes toward the YPG; its fighters have co-operated with the United States in the fight against the jihadist Islamic State in Syria, while Turkey considers the group an extension of the PKK. This party, which has been outlawed by Turkish authorities, has been waging armed operations against the government in Ankara since 1984, and tens of thousands of people have been killed in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict since.
A peace process initiated in 2013 has failed to settle the situation, but the intensity of fighting has remained relatively low in recent years. Unfortunately, if we are to believe President Erdoğan’s words, that is about to change. On Tuesday, the Turkish President announced the launch of ground operations against Kurdish forces to begin as soon as possible.
The following day Erdoğan scaled back his claim a fair bit. Now, the invasion would be happening at a time the Ankara government considers convenient. Time will tell whether that is to happen sooner rather than later.
Eastern Express’ guest
Jonathan Spyer, a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and the Middle East Forum, was TVP World’s guest invited to shed more light on the issue.