The big picture including Syria

The big picture including Syria

The commando brigade was not fighting in the field when 14 of its members were killed and 55 of them, six of them seriously, were injured in the Central Anatolian town of Kayseri on Dec. 17. Just one week before, our hearts were bleeding for the victims of the terror attack in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş. 

I wish they all rest in peace. We have reached a place where words fail. But although we are out of words, we have many issues to consider. 

“Since July 20, 2015, in operations conducted against the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK, the organization has sustained 9,500 casualties. More than 40,000 people have been detained and more than 10,500 people have been arrested,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Dec. 13. 

In the same period, in the fight against PKK terrorism, the number of martyrs killed has reached 1,178, including 843 security personnel and 335 civilians.  

In the past, this issue only had a “northern Iraq” external factor. But now, over the past five years, a more dangerous “Syria factor” has developed. 

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Dec. 18 that the Syrian factor was the cause of several recent challenges for Turkey regarding the PKK. 

True. The “Rojava” factor is certainly important. The PKK, adding to its 40-year organizational and terror experience, became the most effective Kurdish movement in Syria and even managed to smash the pro-Barzani Kurds. 

They managed to form totalitarian administrations in the Jazira, Kobane and Afrin “cantons.” The Westerners regarded them as the most effective power in the field in the fight against ISIL.

Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) head Salih Müslim declared on July 4, 2015 that Kobane and Afrin would be united after the PYD takes Jarablus. This would have meant Turkey being surrounded in the south all the way to Hatay.

However, one year later Turkey launched the “Euphrates Shield” operation against ISIL on Aug. 24, with air support from the U.S. Through that operation, it cleared the PYD from its southern border and from Jarablus. 

One week after Müslim’s statement last year, the co-chairmanship of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) declared the end of the “cease-fire period” in Turkey. Indeed, it had already made its preparations for clashes during the peace process.

Terror and anti-terror operations started. Up to Dec. 13 this year, in almost one-and-a-half years, 9,500 terrorists were killed. Some 1,178 of our security forces were killed. 

The recent terror attacks in Beşiktaş and Kayseri are a part of a bigger picture, which also has Syria in it.  

But it is apparent that the PKK is not finding recruitment difficult. Indeed, whoever attacks the offices and members of the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members, and whoever offends the feelings of our Kurdish citizens, should know they are playing into the hands of the PKK. 

Turkey does not need an exclusionary style and behavior. On the contrary, we need a unifying style and conduct. 

Of course “national unity and fraternity” is our most important, most essential national value. But this cannot be provided with heroic speeches; it can only be provided by creating confidence in people, by respecting fundamental rights, law and freedoms. 

What sense does it make to push the country into tensions over changing the political system in such an environment? We need to think about this calmly. 

Leave aside the Aegean islands, or the city of Mosul. We have to start by defending our motherland of 780,000 square kilometers.  

It is dangerous to give the impression to the world that we are pursuing expansionist policies. Only a diplomacy that defends democracy, our sovereignty and borders - in other words, the Lausanne Treaty - can facilitate an increase in our friends in foreign policy.  

We have to succeed in this. We will succeed.