Syria offensive unpopular in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast

Turkey’s operation against the Kurdish-held northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin is seen by many Turks as a necessary security measure, but it has few plaudits in the country’s Kurdish-majority southeast, left-wing newspaper Evrensel said.

The newspaper sent reporters to the southeastern cities of Antep, Diyarbakır, Şırnak, Malatya, Elazığ and Urfa to ask people in the streets and coffee shops what they thought of the operation.

“In the first coffee house we went into, when we said we were journalists the people there asked us a question before we could question them. ‘Why have we gone to war?’”

Ali, the manager of the coffee shop in Düztepe neighbourhood in Antep, told the paper there was no way any more to protest the move.

“Now look, we haven’t been able to go out on the streets to say no to war,” Evrensel quoted him as saying.

“If we said ‘war is death’, it’s as if they would cave in our heads and kill us.”

The people at a tobacco shop in Antep told the newspaper they did not believe the justification for the intervention.

“When the Islamic State (ISIS) was there, was it more secure? Why did those who now see Kurds as a security threat not see ISIS as a threat before?”

İhsan Doğan, a retiree, told the paper that it he saw the operation as being carried out by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) for domestic political gain.

“The AKP knows that it is finished, and it is doing this just in order to get the people behind it,” he said.

“This is dictatorship and it will drag the country into chaos.”