Ally of Turkey’s Erdoğan warns of danger to party’s Kurdish vote

Bayram Zilan, a Kurdish Justice and Development Party (AK Party) politician known to be close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has warned the party risks losing its Kurdish voters after entering into a formal alliance with the Turkish-nationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

“In the east/southeast, propaganda is being made saying ‘the AK Party is co-operating with the MHP, the Kurds are no longer on the AK Party’s agenda,” Zilan tweeted.

“There is a very broad campaign being carried out with regard to this in all provinces. The AK Party must immediately commence strategic work to prevent this incorrect perception.”

The AKP has traditionally come second in elections in the mainly Kurdish southeast, appealing to conservative voters who dislike the left-wing, secular Kurdish nationalism of the main pro-Kurdish party.

Asked on Tuesday about the perception that his party was moving away from Kurdish voters following its alliance with the MHP, the resumption of conflict with the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey’s southeast and threats to invade Syrian Kurdish-controlled Afrin province in Syria, Erdoğan gave a brief rebuttal.

“Do not believe those things,” he said. “This nation has now overcome those games.”