Kashmir, Kurdish conflicts as different as apples and oranges: Turkey's Erdogan

"We have no problem with the Kurdish people. We have a problem with a terrorist organization.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - The Jammu Kashmir conflict and the Kurdish issue in Turkey are as different as apples and oranges, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who on Sunday set out for an official trip to India.

"We have no problem with the Kurdish people. We have a problem with a terrorist organization. There is no similarity with the Jammu and Kashmir issue," Erdogan told the India-based Wion TV in a Saturday-broadcast interview.

Erdogan was answering a question regarding Turkey's traditionally vocal backing of the Muslim-majority Pakistan in demanding a plebiscite for the people of Kashmir to decide their fate and what that position entailed for the Kurdish aspirations of independence.

Erdogan argued the nature of the two disputes were different, stating Kashmir is a territorial dispute between Pakistan and India whereas the problem Turkey has is "with a terrorist organization that alleges to represent the Kurdish population."

There would have to be another state involved in the conflict over demands by the Kurdish people to make the comparison, further claimed Erdogan.

"We do not see a state or a similar question in Turkey. Over there exists the state of India and the state of Pakistan. But in Turkey, we have PKK here, and YPG there. These are just terrorist organizations," the Turkish President continued.

Erdogan was referring to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which is fighting his country's troops for greater Kurdish rights in what is now a four decades-long guerrilla war.

YPG, the People's Protection Units which Turkey regards as a PKK offshoot, is the main US ally in Syria combatting the Islamic State (IS).

The right to self-determination as a solution to the Kashmir question often brought up by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), of which Turkey is a member, is something Erdogan views as a way for the OIC to try and establish peace.

In response to whether self-determination should extend to Taiwan, Tibet, Balochistan and even Kurdistan, Erdogan deflected and instead criticized the UN Security Council for holding only five permanent members.

Separately at a press conference before flying to New Delhi from Istanbul, Erdogan objected to American soldiers' patrolling the Turkey-Syria border alongside the Kurdish fighters.

"It has severely saddened us to see the two countries' flags - I cannot say a country - the flag of a terrorist group like YPG flying in the same convoy with that of the US," Erdogan said, threatening more attacks on the American-allied Kurds.

Although US President Donald Trump has previously branded himself a fan of the Kurdish forces, Erdogan revealed he would question Trump about the deepening alliance with the YPG.

 

Editing by G.H. Renaud