Why is Ankara attacking Kurds in Syria and Iraq?

After air strikes on the Kurdish PKK and YPG in Syria and Iraq, Turkey is now considering deploying ground troops. Ankara has justified these strikes by describing them as a reaction to the attack in Istanbul's İstiklal pedestrian shopping street, although both Kurdish militias have denied any responsibility for the bombing. For many media outlets the reasons for Turkey's strikes lie elsewhere.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Terrorism is not the real reason

Corriere della Sera knows what Erdoğan's real goals are:

“He wants to end the PKK's presence along the south-eastern border with Syria and Iraq, create a 'Sunni corridor' from Aleppo to Mosul, and settle a large proportion of the Syrian refugees hosted in Turkey in this area. There is also the need to divert public attention from the dire economic situation: inflation is at more than 85 percent and the lira has lost 50 percent against the dollar in the last year. A calling card that diminishes Erdoğan's chances of success in the 2023 presidential election.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Domestic policy takes priority

Erdoğan is now also distancing himself from the US, the Süddeutsche Zeitung comments:

“Washington is close to the YPG in Syria, where it has been fighting the so-called Islamic State. Already after the treacherous attack on a popular shopping street in Istanbul last week, Erdoğan's government was quick to attack the Americans as well, brusquely rejecting sympathy from Washington and blaming the PKK and YPG for the attack. There is no clear evidence so far, but Ankara's calculation is clear: the Turkish president is sure that now he has good cards to pursue his domestic agenda.”

Evrensel (TR) /

The US and Russia have their own goals here

Although the US and Russia agreed to the attack in northern Syria that does not mean they also agree to a ground offensive, writes Evrensel, which is critical of the current government:

“Both imperialist powers want to avoid a confrontation with the Erdoğan government. But they are also trying to prevent Turkey from taking a step that would jeopardise their own positions in Syria. It is well known that Erdoğan's insistence on this operation is linked to his own political needs, although it is obvious that it will not solve the problem of terrorism. ... First and foremost, it looks like such an operation will be quite useful in helping the Erdoğan government create an atmosphere of 'national unity' and winning the people over to nationalist policies.”

Sabah (TR) /

Destroying the evil at its roots

The pro-government daily Sabah says this is nothing new:

“These are long-term and broad-based operations. They have been ongoing for about three years. They cover the entire length of Turkey's southern borders. ... Turkey has declared with great resolve that the source of terrorism lies beyond its borders and has taken an active stance on this. Instead of defending itself, it is trying to destroy terrorism at its roots.”

News247 (GR) /

Double standards are at play

News247 is outraged:

“Turkey is bombing Kobanê, the Kurds are calling for help, but the Americans are turning a blind eye and a deaf ear. Erdoğan's Turkey, a Nato country, is not following the alliance's policy of sanctioning Russia. It provoked the Americans by buying Russian S-400s. Erdoğan often speaks out against Biden and provokes the ire of American senators. But American politics tolerates it all. Now Turkey is attacking America's Kurdish allies and the Biden administration is not lifting a finger. The same goes for the EU and the individual European countries. ... Cynicism and hypocrisy, double standards: Turkey is doing what Russia is doing in Ukraine, only on a smaller scale.”