Recently, Salahettin Demirtas, leader of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), went on the Hezbollah network, Al-Manar to discuss various topics ranging from his party’s entrance into the Turkish parliament to the crisis in Syria. His most notable comments came when answering questions regarding Turkish foreign policy with respect to Syria. Demirtas applauds Hezbollah’s efforts in the interview and states that he stands with the so-called resistance.
He goes on to claim that Turkish foreign policy should change with respect to Syria. The Al-Manar interviewer, barely able to hold her smile, goes on to ask him for further detail with respect to Dermitas’ answer. Using the same rhetoric used by Assad and his proxies, Demirtas claims that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is “living in the past and thinks he is in the Ottoman days”. He goes on to say that the prime minister acted in a “sectarian manner” and that his policy towards Syria is based on “sectarian Sunni politics”. Furthermore, he promises that he will change this policy towards Syria now that HDP has surpassed the ten percent parliamentarian threshold. He reaffirms his party’s platform that they want a “peaceful solution” in Syria that encompasses the Assad regime who he deems “part of the solution”. Demirtas then claims that the AKP government took positions that were “hostile to the Kurds” in the area.
With respect to this interview, there are many glaring problems with Demirtas’ statements but before analyzing each of his remarks, it is important to look at Demirtas’ choice in choosing Al-Manar as an avenue to communicate his thoughts. First and foremost, Hezbollah is an active party fighting alongside Assad’s Army. They are a key pillar in propping up the Syrian Army and relaying key military information to their leadership. With this in mind, has Demirtas forgotten about the Syrian Army’s attacks on Turkish soil? Maybe, the memory of one family who lost four of their relatives in Akcakale due to a mortar attack crossed him. It is a despicable display to go on a network that supports these flagrant violations of the territorial integrity of Turkey. Demirtas might as well conduct an interview with right wing Israeli radio channel, Arutz Sheva, while he is at it.
With that out of the way, Demirtas’s comments couldn’t be any more baseless. Hezbollah is by no means a resistance group when it is actively taking part in murdering Syrians. It is equally ridiculous to criticize Davutoglu’s alleged “sectarian politics” when he is on a channel that not only espouses Shiite sentiment to motivate its fighters, but boasts about trying to implement Vilayat-e Faqih in the Arab world. Turkey, under the AKP, has opened its doors to all refugees, from Yazidis, Kurds, and Arab Syrians. On the other hand, Hezbollah is doing the opposite by ethnically cleansing Sunni dominated areas, like in Homs and Qusair. To go and even claim that Assad can be part of the solution while stating that Turkey is part of the problem is ludicrous. In reality, such remarks shouldn’t really be surprising given that some HDP members have repeatedly voiced support for Assad and even visited him in Damascus.
Demirtas’ silliness reaches new proportions when he claims that the AKP had a hostile approach to the Kurds in Syria. The reality couldn’t be farther from such an allegation. The Turkish government hosted thousands of Kurdish refugees who were escaping the battles between ISIS and YPG, in addition to Assad’s air campaign on Kurdish areas. The Turkish government did disapprove YPG’s request to travel back and forth with military equipment across the Syrian-Turkish border because of its ties to the PKK. In addition, such a blatant use of the Turkish border would fall beyond the government’s auspices due to the porous nature of the border. As a result, the AKP proposed a plan where Peshmerga troops from Iraq would assist the YPG against ISIS in a manner that would be monitored by Turkish authorities. Due to political friction between YPG and Peshmerga, the YPG had initially refused. However, after a series of losses against ISIS, they finally accepted the conditions. As a result, not only does Turkey become instrumental in not allowing the fall of Kobane to occur, but it also was a huge national security win by not allowing YPG and PKK militants (the latter which Turkey, US, and EU deems a terrorist organization) to roam freely across the Turkish-Syrian border.
Demirtas reveals his explicit bias when it comes to the AKP dominated Turkish government. In the interview, he disregards the peace process President Erdogan started with Turkish Kurds and the exponential increase in investments in Southeast Turkey under the AKP. Also, his complete silence as Turkmen and Arab Syrians are being ethnically cleansed by Kurdish PYG units is deafening. Where is your condemnation regarding this matter? It seems like Demirtas would prefer to condemn Turkey on a news channel that makes no effort to hide its hostility towards his own country. Shame on you, Demirtas.