Turkey and northern Iraq: reaction from the West too hesitant?
In the course of a Turkish offensive against the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq, the Turkish military has discovered the bodies of 13 Turks kidnapped by the PKK. According to the government in Ankara they had been "executed" but the PKK says they were killed in Turkish airstrikes. President Erdoğan has criticised the muted response of the Nato allies and demanded that they show unconditional solidarity if they don't want to be seen as supporters of terrorism.
Partners must decide whose side they are on
Western states deliberately get involved with terrorist organisations when it serves their interests, Habertürk comments:
“The US, Israel and other 'Western allies' use radical terrorist organisations such as the PKK/YPG [Kurdish militias], IS and Fetö to impose their own political interests on Turkey through asymmetric warfare. For this reason President Erdoğan made a loud and clear appeal to the US yesterday, asking them to decide whose side they are on. Nowadays, states no longer wage direct wars with each other, as in the past, but 'proxy wars'. The strategy of using terrorist organisations against Turkey is just such a proxy war.”
Ankara may live to regret this
Erdoğan's tough stance vis-à-vis the Kurds and their advocates is ill-advised, comments Pierre Haski in France Inter:
“Turkey is turning the death of its thirteen prisoners into a casus belli, against the PKK of course, but also against all those who show any trace of sympathy for the latter. Erdoğan had several hundred leaders of the HDP - a Kurdish party represented in parliament and accused of being the political arm of the PKK - rounded up yesterday. ... He also seems determined to put the new American administration up against the wall, although that could well backfire. ... Erdoğan might regret it if he turns this Kurdish crisis into a moment of truth for Turkey's relations with its Nato partners.”
US should emulate the Russian pros
A certain finesse is required when dealing with Turkey, Ria Novosti explains to the Americans:
“What should the US do if neither a policy of strictness towards Turkey nor playing Mr Nice Guy work out? Russia - which has a no less complex relationship with Turkey and shares as many interests as it does conflicts with the country - has shown a way forward. This approach requires accurate, quiet and skilful work on the part of professionals who understand the specifics of the region and who always succeed in setting aside differences between our countries while avoiding escalation. Most recently this was demonstrated in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
Freeing hostages was a secondary objective
Yetkin Report suspects that the killings could have been avoided:
“Was the real intention behind the offensive - code-named Claw-Eagle 2 - to free the hostages or the area around Gara Mountain from the PKK? ... Clearly, the real aim of the operation was to strike a blow at the Gara region, an important PKK gateway into Turkey. For this reason, military and diplomatic preparations had been in progress for a long time. It was during this process that information arrived that the hostages were also there, thus giving the initiative a double objective. Could the operation have been cancelled so as not to endanger the lives of Turkish citizens in the hands of the PKK? That is perhaps the most critical question of all.”