Turkish ‘double-dealing’ in fight against ISIS

© Sertac Kayar
The Turkish government made an agreement with the US to partner in the fight against ISIS. But it seems Ankara is using that as a cover-up to escalate its fight against Kurdish guerillas in Turkey, says Firat Demir, associate professor from the University of Oklahoma.

RT: While the world's attention has been focused on Syria the Turkish army has launched an operation within its country. What is going on?

Firat Demir: I am afraid Turkey is moving on the fast track to civil war, and is in a spiral of violence for the last two months or so. And within the last months there were several clashes in a number of Kurdish cities… In Cizre there were more than 20 civilians that were killed, and according to witnesses they were mostly killed by the security forces, and these were civilians. And he November 1st elections, I am afraid, are just a milestone towards which this violence will escalate. And I have to add that regarding the war on ISIS in Syria, the Turkish government made an agreement with the US to be a partner in that fight. But I am afraid they are using that as a cover-up to escalate their fight against the Kurdish guerillas in Turkey.

READ MORE: 17 PKK members killed in Turkish military assault on Kurdish city of Silvan – reports

RT: Turkey is attacking its own civilians, where's the world’s concern and attention towards the fate of the Kurds?

FD: There is no doubt that for the Kurds, this is going to be, in a sense, the center of a Kurdish movement in Iraq and also in Northern Syria. Right now in Syria Kurds are the only viable ground forces that the US and allies can use against ISIS and ISIS targets. And that is a major point of contention between the Turkish government and the US given that Turkey recognizes the Kurdish guerillas not in Syria as terrorists and an extension of the PKK group, which the US and its allies disagree with.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan © Umit Bektas

RT: The Kurdish militia has helped in fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq, and Turkey also fights against ISIS, so why attack them in their own country? It seems Turkey is attacking both sides in the same war.

FD: The Turkish government claims these are two different organizations or the fight against terrorism includes the fight against the PKK guerillas, which the US and the EU recognizes as a terrorist organization. But the current government has made significant advances regarding Kurdish rights and Kurdish autonomy. And there was a ceasefire going on for several years. But the June 1st election after which the Kurdish party managed to enter the parliament and captured 19 percent of the votes seems to have ended the current president and its government given that it’s prevented the AKP government from having a majority and changed the constitution to allow a presidential system for Mr. [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan.

I think it was a turning point that he decided to end the ceasefire with the Kurds and start an onslaught attack on Kurdish guerillas: there has been more than 100 people [killed] during the last two months and a significant number of them are civilians. And these cities including Silvan are being cut from all the communications lines. Cizre, which was under attack last month and more than 20 people were killed, civilians mostly, was cut off from the rest of the world for 9 days. It was under curfew, people were not allowed to even go to hospital, buy food or drinking water. Even the members of the parliament are not being allowed to enter these cities. So, it is like a complete martial law in the Kurdish cities depending on which one they choose to attack. And dozens of mayors in different Kurdish cities are being arrested.

We also have an onslaught attack on the free press: Just this past week a major newspaper has been attacked including a major journalists. And Mr. Erdogan, the current president has been suing journalists left and right, including Hasan Cemal who is one of the most famous journalists of the country [who is being] sued for insulting the president.

RT: Turkey has already been accused of attacking Kurds under the pretext of bombing ISIL. Why is Turkey so worried they'll become independent?

FD: Turkey is scared that Kurds will have move into nationhood and will have independence. And any independence movement in Syria the Turkish government interprets as a track towards its own national security which I think is ungrounded.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.