MHP leader says 5,000 far-right volunteers ready to defend Turkmens in Iraq
At least 5,000 ultra-nationalist volunteers are ready to join Turkmen groups’ struggle to defend Kirkuk and other cities with Turkmen populations in Iraq, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said on Sept. 27.
Bahçeli also criticized the government for encouraging the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) through “controversial and contradictory” statements on Ankara’s response to the referendum.
“At least 5,000 nationalist volunteers are waiting ready to join the Turkmens’ struggle for existence and unity in Turkic cities in Iraq, particularly Kirkuk. Turkmens are not alone and unprotected. They will never be abandoned to painful ethnic genocide,” said the MHP leader in a written statement.
“It is our duty to support their life, property and homeland security. Our decision is firm and our stance is clear [on this],” he said.
Bahçeli, who is the main ally of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish president and chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), slammed the government for its contradictory statements on Turkey’s potential measures against the KRG and its president, Massoud Barzani.
“Confusing and contradictory statements from the government have almost helped Barzani, strengthened his position and expanded his area to maneuver. Although it has been stated that all options including military intervention and economic sanctions were on the table, no concrete step has been taken so far,” Bahçeli said.
He indirectly referred to contradicting statements made by different ministers and President Erdoğan on the closure of the Habur border gate and the imposition of economic sanctions on the KRG. Although Erdoğan had said all entries and exits into northern Iraq would be stopped, Customs Minister Bülent Tüfenkçi and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu have ruled out shutting the border gate with Iraq.