Turkey Parliament renews army mandate for operations into Syria, Iraq

Almost four decades of conflict with Kurds at home and abroad, Turkey continues to strengthen military measures against Kurdish aspirations.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – In its first working week of the new term, the Turkish Parliament on Wednesday extended a military mandate that allowed the army to continue conducting cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq for yet another year to dismantle Kurdish territorial self-rule and crush political aspirations in the north of the two neighboring countries.

The mandate proposed by the ruling right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance also got support from the opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) and ultra-nationalist IYI Party.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) voted against the motion.

“It is vital to take necessary measures against [attempts] to damage the territorial unity of Iraq and Syria and illegitimate faits accomplis on the ground as well as to counter all kinds of risks, threats, and actions that may pose danger to our national security,” a part of the mandate approved by the Turkish assembly read.

Ankara is locked in an almost four-decade-long on and off conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that is fighting for Kurdish self-rule inside Turkey—a war with casualties exceeding 40,000, mostly Kurdish fighters and civilians.

The PKK has its leadership and major bases in the Kurdistan Region, parts of which have come under Turkish invasion and continued airstrikes.

A Kurdish-led de facto autonomous region in northern Syria has become another headache for the Turkish state since the outbreak of a civil war in the neighboring country.

The Turkish army currently occupies a large portion of northwestern Syria, including the previously self-ruling town of Afrin which it invaded earlier this year in a bloody campaign that saw hundreds of civilians killed and some 160,000 people uprooted from their lands.

During the opening ceremony of the new Parliament, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted on mounting the war on Kurdish groups, including the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a US-allied group fighting the Islamic State in Syria.

Erdogan also took pride in having, through an economic blockade and military threats, successfully choked Kurdistan Region’s bid for independence from Iraq after a referendum last year that got the support for statehood of 93 percent of voters.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany