Turkey’s main opposition embraces Erdoğanism over Syria offensive - columnist

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has embraced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s policies by giving support to Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, İrfan Aktan, a columnist of Duvar news site said on Wednesday.

The CHP voted in favour of a parliamentary motion that extended Turkey’s military operations in Syria before the offensive was launched on Oct. 9.

The CHP leader’s decision to support the motion was criticised by some lawmakers of the CHP, but Kılıçdaroğlu said on Sunday that it was the correct move.

The politician also praised the services provided to people in northwestern Syrian town of Afrin, which was seized by the Turkish military and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels in 2018 and in Idlib, where Turkey has established a de-escalation zone with Russia according to a deal made last year.

“What will happen there if Turkey retreats? The people there will also come to Turkey. The cost of retreat will be higher for Turkey,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. 

“This means that Kılıçdaroğlu also perceives peace as a threat, and actually has entered the Erdoğanist camp while pretending to criticise him,” Aktan said.

Turkey’s nine-day military operation in northern Syria against territories held by Syrian Kurdish forces has also escalated the tensions in the country over Turkey’s more than three-decades long Kurdish issue.

Turkey sees the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) in Syria as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The military offensive was followed by a wave of arrests of members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which the government says is affiliated to the PKK.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s stance shows how successful Erdoğan and his alliance is, but it also shows what kind of politics parliamentary opposition parties — with the exception of the HDP — have been pursuing, the columnist said. 

“After this, it’s only a matter of time before Kılıçdaroğlu tries to pull the CHP base towards his own views, which are actually Erdoğanism,” he said.

Kurdish votes played a pivotal role in CHP’s victories in Istanbul and Ankara in local elections this year.

“The close relations between CHP voters and the Kurds during the March 31 and June 23 elections were completely shattered after CHP supported the operation,” Aktan said.