The ISIL fire has started to burn Turkish homes too

The ISIL fire has started to burn Turkish homes too

The flames of the havoc wreaked by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria have started to burn Turkish homes, despite Turkey not yet becoming a part of the war.

The death toll from the protests over the last two days was 19 as of late afternoon yesterday, Oct. 8. The government imposed a curfew in six – predominately Kurdish-populated – provinces near the Iraqi and Syrian borders. In Diyarbakır alone, 10 people were killed on the night of Oct. 7 and for the first time in many years, since the years following the 1980 military coup, the military was on the streets with infantry and tanks. This time, it was called to duty by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government. Meanwhile, local schools have been closed for the rest of the week.

The actors on the Diyarbakır scene were as follows:

1- The sympathizers of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which is focused on the Kurdish issue, and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which both share the same grassroots. Both demand that the Turkish government become militarily involved in the Kobane theater against ISIL, which has been advancing into the town for the last two weeks.

2- Sympathizers of the ruling AK Parti, who think the PKK is abusing the Kobane incident just to blackmail the government regarding the ongoing peace process dialogue between the two.

3- Sympathizers of the Free Cause Party (Hüda-Par), which is the legal front of the Kurdish Hizbullah (which is not Shiite like the Lebanese Hezbollah, but Sunni). Actually, most of the killings took place when a group of PKK militants raided the Hüda-Par’s local building.

4- The security forces.

The situation is so traumatic for the government that former Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler, reacting to the lynching of one Hüda-Par member by the PKK, tweeted: “At least ISIL only kills people, and does not torture them.” This ignored the torture and beheading videos by ISIL on the web, and İşler had to delete the tweet after massive reactions on social media.

The footage of demonstrators setting alight the Turkish flag and statues of Turkey’s founding father Kemal Atatük sparked reactions from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) - both opposition parties in Parliament - but also the military, which issued a note on its official website. The CHP and MHP asked their supporters to calm down and not to take to the streets, and the CHP also canceled a rally in Istanbul in support of the people of Kobane, in order to not further agitate the already tense situation. The HDP, meanwhile, made a statement expressing its opposition to setting alight Turkish flags and Atatürk statues.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu convened a security meeting with the participation of ranking soldiers, diplomats and intelligence officers yesterday afternoon in order to determine new measures, and with such a background he is going to have talks with NATO and U.S. officials about the level of Turkish military contribution to the fight against ISIL.

Davutoğlu, like President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan before, said that without an internationally imposed no-fly zone over Syrian air space along the Turkish border, Turkey will not get militarily involved in the anti-ISIL fight. However, so far only French President François Hollande has backed them on that.

The talks will demonstrate how long the Davutoğlu government will continue to insist on those conditions when the fire is already burning inside Turkey. Meanwhile, it is only the CHP that remains in calling on the government to stay clear of the “quagmire of the Middle East.”