ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The spokesperson for the Turkish government and Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag on Thursday labeled a group of leading public figures as “lackeys and willing supporters of terrorism” over a petition that called for an end to the military offensive targeting the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria.
“We know these characters. They are trying to create an agenda in the name of peace to weaken the campaign of destroying the terror groups,” Bozdag told the staunchly pro-government A Haber TV.
Over 170 prominent figures—among them intellectuals, academics, artists, authors, former politicians, and ministers—urged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers to make peace with Syrian Kurds instead of waging war.
“We believe that the best way to protect our borders and not face an existential crisis is to strengthen friendship and bilateral relations [with Kurds in Syria],” their petition read.
“Let there be no such intellectuals. I report them to our people,” Bozdag said.
Backing the Free Syrian Army (FSA) faction, Turkey launched an intense aerial bombardment of Kurdish positions in Afrin over the weekend and began a ground invasion.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Osman Baydemir likened Turkish proxies to the Islamic State (IS), describing them as of the mindset “stoning women to death.”
“We know that an armed campaign against Afrin that poses no threat to Turkey does not serve our country or the region, it will not bring peace or security. To the contrary, the destruction and pain [inflicted] will deeply wound our own Kurdish compatriots,” they said, warning against further divisions inside Turkey.
Ankara considers the de facto Kurdish-led autonomy in northern Syria as a threat to its own territorial integrity, fearing similar demands by the long-suppressed Kurds who constitute a majority in some of its 20 provinces in the east and southeast.
Erdogan and his administration have declared Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), controlled by the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) that is fighting IS, as a “terror corridor,” and vowed to resettle “its true owners” there.
Among the signatories of the peace petition were one of Erdogan’s former ministers Ertugrul Gunay, former lawmaker Ahmet Faruk Unsal, musician Zulfu Livaneli, academics Murat Belge, and Cihangir Islam who is the husband of Turkey’s ambassador to Malaysia, Merve Kavakci.
“Joining the countries that have violated [Syria’s sovereignty] will only lead to disappointment, irreparable societal, political, and economic and humanitarian losses for our country.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany