Turkish Parliament approves northern Iraq motion despite opposition from BDP

Turkish Parliament approves northern Iraq motion despite opposition from BDP

Turkish Parliament approves northern Iraq motion despite opposition from BDP

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A government motion to extend the Turkish military’s authority for cross-border operations against members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) settled in northern Iraq was approved by Parliament Oct. 10 with the majority of votes except from Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) lawmakers.

“This motion is part of our comprehensive efforts to put an end to terror. We will both achieve higher democratic standards for our country and we will be prepared for possible attacks of the PKK terrorist organization. The success of the resolution process [of the Kurdish issue] depends on a stance giving no concession to terrorism,” Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said in Parliament during the debates.

Parliament has been authorizing cross-border operations into northern Iraq since 2007 and authorization has been extending the mandate each year. The motion authorizes the government to determine the scale, scope and timing of military action. The current mandate expires Oct. 17.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) fully supported the motion. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also approved the bill although some deputies voted against it. CHP deputy chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu declared that he would not attend the voting at the General Assembly. CHP lawmaker Hüseyin Aygün also announced that he and Veli Ağbaba, Özgür Özel, Refik Eryılmaz and a number of CHP deputies would vote against the motion.

Speaking during the debates at the general assembly, BDP lawmaker Nazmi Gür harshly condemned the bill, indicating that adopting “a motion for war” during a “peace process” demonstrated the government’s contradictory attitude.

“The government brought the war motion forward at a time when negotiations [with the PKK] should be broadened. This is a contradictory attitude toward the peace process. That means government intends to put an end to efforts for peace and resolution. The motion will disrupt the deadlocked peace process,” Gür said. “If we are in a peace process, why has the government pushed for that motion? This motion clearly shows that the AKP intends to maintain war with other methods,” he added.

The MHP, nevertheless, claimed that government was aiming to use the motion as a “bargaining element.” “We will vote for this motion to enable you to strike terrorists, not to use as a bargaining element. We don’t approve of your foreign policy but we back this motion for the improvement of the operational capability of the Turkish Armed Forces,” MHP lawmaker Tuğrul Türkeş said during parliamentary debates.