Turkey’s Syria incursion a “fight against all imperialists”, says minister

Turkey is, “without any exaggeration”, fighting a “great struggle against all of the world's imperialists”, CNN Turk quoted Numan Kurtulmuş, the country’s Tourism and Culture Minister, as saying.

Speaking at an event to celebrate the northern Turkish city of Kastamonu’s 2018 selection as the cultural capital of the Turkish world, Kurtulmuş described Turkey’s current military operation against the northwest Syrian region of Afrin as a fight against imperialist forces seeking to divide the Middle East region.

Turkey attacked Afrin, a majority-Kurdish enclave located near Turkey, last Saturday after the revelation on Jan. 14 of plans to create a U.S.-backed 30,000-strong border force, including fighters from armed Kurdish groups that Turkey deemed to be affiliates of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). These groups include the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the United States has supplied with weaponry and training in Syria.

Kurtulmuş said that imperialists had returned to divide the region, one hundred years after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the loss of its territories to emerging Arab states. The “main intention” behind the wars plaguing countries “from Yemen to Libya” was to set terrorist against Turkey, said Kurtulmuş.

Anti-imperialist rhetoric is common in the political discourse of the Turkish Republic, which was founded in 1923 after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk led the country to victory in an independence war against invading forces, including European imperialist states of France, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The “imperialists” today seek to “turn Sunnis against Shi’ites”, said Kurtulmuş, adding that Turkey was the only country that could “put a stop to their games”. This, the minister said, is why the unnamed imperialists were providing weapons to the PKK, as well as “encouraging” the extremist jihadist Islamic State group and providing assistance to the Fetullahist terrorist organisation, which Ankara holds responsible for the July 2016 coup attempt.

Turkey would not "leave attacks through terrorist organisations" unanswered, declared the minister.