Turkey’s defence minister Hulusi Akar targeted foreign powers and the country’s opposition on Friday over ties with groups he labels as terrorists.
The most recent comments of Akar, the former chief of staff of the Turkish army, came following escalating tensions in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Sulaymaniyah over the past weeks.
In interviews with pro-government outlets, Akar claimed that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been used in proxy wars waged against Turkey for the past 40 years.
“Without coming face-to-face with Turkey, without engaging in an eye-to-eye struggle, they are trying to organise some groups under the PKK to slow down and stop us,” Akar told Yeni Şafak newspaper, without clarifying who he is accusing.
“We target wherever terrorists go and our only targets are terrorists,” Akar said, adding that Turkey’s operations against Kurdish armed groups have recently concentrated on Iraq’s north.
“We are going to end this. And now, god willing, our struggle against terrorism continues with increased violence, with increased pace, with an aggressive spirit,” Akar said.
“We are directly telling some countries we call friends and allies about their relations with terrorists,” Akar said, claiming that Turkey receives no response from those countries when they are confronted with accounts of terrorist activities.
The defence minister told Yeni Şafak that Turkey has been continuously following the leaders of the PKK.
“The so-called chiefs of the terrorist organisation cannot sleep at the same place in two subsequent nights. They know that they will be doomed if their places are known,” Akar said, adding that the PKK is at the point of collapse.
The minister, who runs in elections as a candidate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) from the central Anatolian province of Kayseri, said that all progress Turkey had achieved in its fight against terrorism would be lost if the government changed hands.
“They put their hopes in elections,” he said, referring to the PKK, claiming that opposition parties have announced that they will release Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, if they win the 14 May elections.
The Turkish government have been continuously targeting the six opposition party Nation Alliance in recent weeks, accusing them of making deals with the PKK and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) behind the scenes.
The HDP’s decision to not field its own presidential candidate for 14 May polls have strengthened the hand of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu for his presidential race against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.