MHP, AKP in row over ‘casus belli’ remarks on Iraqi Kurdish independence referendum
ANKARAThe Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have engaged in a row over the Iraqi Kurdish administration’s planned independence referendum, with MHP head Devlet Bahçeli criticizing Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s dismissal of his claim that the vote could be a “cause for war.”
Yıldırım had stated that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) independence vote, slated for Sept. 25, would not be tantamount to a “casus belli” as war “can only break out between two states,” and Ankara does not recognize Arbil as a state.
In a response on Aug. 26, Bahçeli referred to the definition of war in the third article of Turkey’s law on mobilization and the state of war.
“The State of the Republic of Turkey is obliged to use its right to self-defense and intervention against any kind of action, preparation, setup, arrangement, attempt or aggressive desire that closely threaten its survival, directly target its sovereign rights and endanger its existence and unity,” the MHP leader said.
“This referendum is an insidious preparatory work for the establishment and reclamation of Kurdistan, and it is a dark precursor move. It is a national necessity that Yıldırım sees this,” he added.
The row comes after the ruling AKP and the MHP teamed up ahead of the April 16 referendum on shifting Turkey to an executive presidential system. The two parties campaigned for the “yes” side, which was narrowly approved in the referendum amid opposition objections and international criticism of the campaign and vote process.
Bahçeli blasted the prime minister’s remarks on the upcoming KRG vote, which he said “threatened the national and historic interests of the country.”
“The fact that Yıldırım responded so quickly to my comment on the threats against our country, considering it necessary to do so, goes against political courtesy and delicacy. [He should instead] quickly react against those with a treacherous intent in Arbil. Breaking down the April 16 consensus with the Sept. 25 excuse will be of no benefit to anyone,” he stated, adding that the KRG referendum is “full of potential developments that would challenge [Turkey’s] sovereignty.”
“The MHP’s side was obvious when it said ‘yes’ for the continuation [of the state] in the April 16 referendum. But it is diverging [from the government] with regard to the approach toward the Sept. 25 Kurdistan referendum. The fact that the prime minister has resorted to trying to correct our words, as if he is shaking a finger at us, is wrong. It damages the common view that defends Turkey’s national sensitivity and goals,” Bahçeli said.
The MHP leader voiced his hope that Yıldırım “would be aware of the mistake he has made.”