By attempting to mend ties with the Syrian government in Damascus, Ankara is either seeking some fresh air before elections or trying to blackmail its Western allies, said Cemil Bayık, a prominent name in the Kurdish freedom movement.
The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have found themselves in a challenging situation, Bayık said in an interview with the Kurdish Peace Institute published on Tuesday.
“With elections approaching, Turkey needs a breath of fresh air. Erdoğan can’t find success with his Syria policy. He would not be seeking a deal with Syria otherwise,” Bayık said about the ongoing Russia-brokered negotiations between the Turkish and the Syrian governments.
“Whether this may be an attempt to blackmail the US and Europe must be evaluated and understood. But even more than that, Erdoğan and the AKP want to mend relations with Syria because they are struggling,” Bayık, co-chair of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), added.
According to Bayık, a founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Ankara will not stop backing Syrian rebels it has supported for over a decade, and for Bashar Assad government in Damascus this complicates the potential to normalise relations with its northern neighbour.
The Kurdish leader also answered questions about a possible ground invasion of Turkey into Kurdish-held Rojava in northwest Syria.
The consequences of such an attack will not be limited to the Kurds and Rojava, Bayık said, adding that a fresh offensive will create new political and military dynamics for the Kurds.
“The division of Kurdistan into four separate nation-states does not mean that there are no political and social relations and spiritual unity among the Kurds,” the Kurdish leader said.
“In this context, a new invasion will bring about a new assessment of the situation and will unify the Kurds both politically and militarily. It may also be possible for this to be reflected in the international arena and for the international community to emerge more strongly in favour of the Kurds. In short, a new potential for resistance may emerge in Kurdistan,” he added.
The Kurdish question is not a regional problem concerning Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, but an international one, according to Bayık.
The Kurdish leader said, the growing tendency in the United States favouring a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish question is a positive development.
“If there is a serious will for a solution in the Turkish public opinion (which is developing), in the Turkish state, and in the international arena, especially in the U.S., the Kurdish side is both willing and ready,” Bayık said.
“It is true that we have expectations from the international community, especially the United States,” Bayık said, adding that Washington and the rest of the international community should put pressure on Turkey, encourage it to abandon its strategy of war, and encourage a democratic political solution to resolve the decades-long conflict.