Turkey has no option but to fight PKK, ISIL simultaneously: FM

Turkey has no option but to fight PKK, ISIL simultaneously: FM

Turkey has no option but to fight PKK, ISIL simultaneously: FM

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Turkey’s only option is to fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) simultaneously, the Turkish foreign minister has said, stressing both the organizations were equally dangerous.

“You cannot give priority [against which terrorist organization you will fight] when you are under attack. For us, each of these terror organizations is as dangerous as the other. The DAESH attacks in the daytime, the PKK in the night. We have no other option than fighting both of them simultaneously,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with the French daily Le Monde on July 5. DAESH is an Arabic acronym for ISIL. 

Çavuşoğlu’s statement was a reply to Le Monde’s question whether it was logical for Turkey to pursue these two fights at the same time. 

The Turkish military has been conducting massive military operations against the PKK in the southeastern Anatolian region and against ISIL in northern Syria. A recent terrorist attack carried out by the ISIL at Atatürk Airport killed 45 civilians and wounded around 200. 

“This is not new. There were attacks carried out by DAESH against Turkey,” Çavuşoğlu said in response to a question whether Turkey would change its strategy against the jihadist organization. 

“A tactical change can take place but it won’t be a strategic change. We are fighting against DAESH with all our means. We have been very active in the anti-ISIL coalition by opening our İncirlik Base and by training [Kurdish] Peshmerga and Iraqi local forces [Christians, Yezidis, Sunnis and Turkmens] in northern Iraq. We long ago ceased the flow of foreign fighters,” Çavuşoğlu stated. 

‘PKK fighting against DAESH in Syria?’  

When the Le Monde recalled that the PKK was fighting against ISIL in Syria, Çavuşoğlu said: “I am very happy as you have now understood that there is no difference between the PKK and the PYD [Democratic Union Party]. Our friends in Europe and American allies are trying to convince us of the opposite. Shall we allow the PKK to kill our soldiers and police and continue their terror acts in Turkey just because they are fighting DAESH? No, not possible.”

The objective of the PKK and the PYD is to establish an entity in northern Syria as they have not been focused on the peace and stability of the country, Çavuşoğlu said. “This is very dangerous. This will have a very negative affect on the security of Europe and the United States in the middle and long run.” 

On the ongoing operation carried out by the anti-ISIL coalition to push ISIL from the Manbij area, Çavuşoğlu admitted that the U.S. was implementing a deal reached between Ankara and Washington. “This is a secret military agreement. I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. According to reports, Turkey sought assurances from the U.S. that PYD forces would be withdrawn from the Manbij area after the completion of the operation. 

Russian violations of Turkish airspace 

Asked whether Turkey had guarantees from NATO in the event of the continuation of airspace violations by Russian military planes, Çavuşoğlu said: “NATO has already taken a decision to deploy an air defense system that would protect all of Turkish air space. Certain parts of it are being deployed. I will talk about this during [NATO’s] upcoming Warsaw Summit.”