Kurdish ‘terror group supporters’ among Yellow Vest protesters, Erdogan claims
“The sympathizers of the separatist terrorist organization, who we warned [Europe] not to protect and support for years, are now among the primary perpetrators of this chaos,” the Turkish president reportedly told an audience at a rally in Istanbul on Saturday. The speech took place shortly after France's massive protest movement had turned the country's streets into virtual battlefields for the eighth time since November.
Erdogan was not specific about what his nemesis, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has to gain from hijacking a protest over fuel prices 2,500km away from the territorial disputes with the Turkish government, but appeared certain it was involved.
“The PKK's branches are there. The DHKP-C (People's Liberation Army-Front terror group) is there,” he said.
Erdogan explained that he opposes both the chaos of the demonstrations and the “disproportionate violence” of the French police. However, he ultimately placed the blame on European leaders who “fell in their own ditch,” by blaming migrants and Islam for their problems, failing to recognize the danger of their own people.
The Yellow Vest protests have grown in scope and increased their demands accordingly, now seeking no less than President Emmanuel Macron's resignation. Due to the horizontal and leaderless structure of the protests, it has been difficult to pin the movement down with political brands or specific positions.
The Turkish state has been engaged in violent combat with the PKK, designated as a terrorist group by some countries and organizations, including NATO, since 1978 over the ethnic group's demand for regional autonomy. The Turkish government has spent billions of dollars trying to quell the insurgency, which, all the same, remains one of the most pressing issues confronting the country today.
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