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Turkish President Ignores ISIS, Stokes Civil War with Kurds


Since Turkey joined the U.S.-Led colition to fight ISIS, its military actions have struck far more Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) targets than ISIS targets, leading many to suspect that the government is using ISIS as an excuse to reignite the civil war against the PKK and intimidate the Kurdish population.

Critics argue, further, that Turkey’s failures to combat ISIS are calculated, given the Islamic State’s repeated attacks on Kurdish targets, such as the Suruc bombing last July and the Ankara bombing last month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan escalated his anti-PKK rhetoric last week, saying on Wednesday, “Turkey will continue its fight against Kurdish insurgents until every last militant is liquidated,” in his first major presidential address since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) won reelection on November 1. The announcement led to an almost immediate end to a monthlong ceasefire, igniting deadly clashes that have killed almost 200 since last week alone.

On Monday, clashes broke out in the Turkish city of Cizre when PKK fighters bombed a hospital, heavily damaging the facility and forcing the evacuation of 30 patients during the most recent wave of violence in the southeastern region of the country.

While the AKP won the most recent elections by promising stability — appealing to an electorate traumatized by a summer of ISIS-linked bombings and renewed violence in the south — the ruling party’s actions leading up to and following the elections have yielded greater insecurity and instability. First is the renewal of Turkey’s war against the Kurds in the guise of fighting ISIS.

“I am doubtful over whether AKP is afraid of the radicalization going on in society,” Dogu Eroglu, a locally based investigative journalist with the Daily BirGün told The Intercept. “After finding the best tool to contain Kurds both inside and outside of Turkey,” he continued, “there is no reason that AKP should give up on the opportunities offered by the existence of the Islamic State.”