ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Declaring his readiness to fight personally in the Kurdish region of Afrin in Syria if the army announced a war effort, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a Saturday rally in the Mediterranean city of Mersin made a hand gesture racist Turkish supremacists use.
“Together,” Erdogan urged thousands of his supporters while raising his index and pinky fingers in the air with the middle and ring ones firmly pressed on the thumb to repeat after him: “one nation, one flag, one homeland, one state.”
The gesture is known as the “Grey Wolf sign” in Turkey.
The Grey Wolves are an organization with a violent past, including murders, assassinations, and involvement in massacres against non-Muslim minorities, Alevis, the Kurds, and leftists in the 1970s.
As they chanted along at the nationally televised event, Erdogan immediately went on to make the “Rabia sign” of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood organization in Egypt, a group Ankara supports against Cairo’s military-rooted leadership that overthrew the country’s democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood member, in 2013.
It was not strange for the Turks to see Erdogan making the Rabia salute. Indeed, he has rebranded the raised four fingers and folded thumb as one of his own, often repeating the slogan “one nation, one flag, one homeland, one state” to assign a meaning to each finger.
However, seeing him salute the crowd with the ultranationalist gesture was a first, as he teams up with the far-right junior opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to secure victory in the upcoming local, parliamentary, and presidential elections set for 2019.
Later, at the provincial convention of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the same city, he threatened to invade all of Syrian Kurdistan after Afrin which has been under attack by the Turkish military and its Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies.
He designated the population centers of Manbij, Kobani, Tel Abyad, Ras al-Ayn, and Qamishli as targets, despite a potential military confrontation with the US whose troops continue to serve along Kurdish forces in the anti-Islamic State (IS) campaign.
He criticized NATO for what he said was not standing up to “terrorism.”
“[There are] NATO members in Syria. In fact, if they had the power, they would very openly be confronting us. But, they dare not,” he said in words apparently referring to the US which keeps bases in the Kurdish region of Syria which he vowed to capture.
“Chief, take us to Afrin,” AKP supporters chanted.
“We shall go there [enlist] together when the military command gives the order of war effort. I will be in front of you because we believe in something superior,” the Turkish President said, referring to martyrdom.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany