Turkish main opposition leader urges gov’t, Kurdish protesters to act with common sense

Turkish main opposition leader urges gov’t, Kurdish protesters to act with common sense

Turkish main opposition leader urges gov’t, Kurdish protesters to act with common sense

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu speaks with reporters after his arrival in the Aegean province of İzmir on Oct. 8. AA Photo

Turkey has not only been dragged into the Middle East quagmire, but it has also dragged the quagmire onto its own soil, the country’s main opposition leader has said, calling for calm after 24 hours of deadly clashes around the country.

“Turkey has dragged the Middle East quagmire inside its own country; it has been stuck in the quagmire,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters in the Aegean province of İzmir on Oct. 8.

“It’s as if emergency rule has been declared again. This is my call to the government: Review your foreign policy. We said: ‘You are conducting the wrong foreign policy; this foreign policy won’t bring any good to Turkey.’ We said: ‘Turkey is being dragged into the Middle East quagmire; beware, do not drag Turkey into the Middle East quagmire.' But they responded to us saying, ‘The Middle East is not quagmire,’” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

He was speaking a day after at least 14 people were reported to have died during violent clashes across Turkey, as the fate of the besieged Syrian border town of Kobane revived tensions between Turkey’s Kurds and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, leading to clashes that provoked harsh and deadly force from the security forces.

“The expression of ‘tit-for-tat response’ is an extremely dangerous expression. Those who govern the state should know that violence reproduces violence. The state should not be governed with revenge, greed and violence. The state should be governed by reason and rationality,” Kılıçdaroğlu also said.

He was referring to recent remarks by Interior Minister Efkan Ala, who accused pro-Kurdish protesters of “betraying their own country” and warned them to disperse or face “unpredictable” consequences.

“Violence will be met with violence ... This irrational attitude should immediately be abandoned and [the protesters] should withdraw from the streets,” Ala told reporters in Ankara on Oct. 7.

Violence erupted in Turkish towns and cities mainly in the Kurdish southeastern provinces, as protesters took to the streets to demand the government do more to protect Kobane, a predominantly Kurdish settlement that has been surrounded by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters for three weeks.

The CHP head also delivered a warning to the demonstrators, highlighting the need for respect for the common values of the nation, including the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

“While calling on citizens [to act according to] common sense, I also want to underline that a society has common values. The first among these values is the flag. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is a leader for whom even his enemies had respect; he is a world leader raised in these lands. All of us should pay respect to our flag and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,” he said.

Protesters burnt Turkish flags and sculptures of Atatürk on Oct. 7, gestures that infuriated nationalist Turks and the government.

Authorities imposed curfews in at least five provinces and police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators who burnt cars and tires, while groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) clashed with ISIL sympathizers such as Hizbullah in some southeastern areas.