Bahceli urges action to protect Turkmens in Syria and Iraq

Turkish nationalist opposition leader Devlet Bahceli calls for cross-border military operation to protect ethnic Turkmens in Syria and Iraq

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli has called for cross-border operations in order to protect Turkmens in Syria and Iraq and has criticised the Turkish government for not giving enough assistance to the ethnic group.

Bahceli previously supported a parliamentary vote to provide a year-long mandate allowing the Turkish government to undertake cross-border operations in Iraq and Syria.

He asked, “Why did you not use your authorisation?”

“Let’s give more authorisation [if necessary] from the Turkish parliament, to permanently rescue the Turkmens of Syria and Iraq from persecution, and give our kin peace via operations,” he added.  

In October 2014, the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) proposed a motion in parliament with the aim of fighting against militant groups including the outlawed PKK and ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The mandate cited the reasons for a cross-border operation being “terror against Turkey, all kinds of security risks, mass migration, and other possible risks, and developments emerging during and after a crisis.”

The mandate was supported by the AK Party and MHP and opposed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz stated that the protection of the Turkmens’ interests and saving them from negative effects of the regional crisis are of the utmost importance, in a speech during the parliamentary session discussing the mandate at the time.

Bahceli also criticised the AK Party for not supporting the Bayirbucak Turkmens as much as it has supported the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other opposition groups in Syria since the beginning of the conflict.  

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated in May that Turkey will protect the Syrian Turkmens living in Bayirbucak, north of the Syrian city of Latakia, which has recently come under heavy bombardment from Bashar al-Assad's regime forces.  

Syrian Turkmens have established several brigades with the Syrian Turkmen Assembly to fight against the Assad regime. The Syrian Turkmen Assembly is a coalition of Turkmen parties representing Syrian Turkmens in the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and the Syrian National Coalition.

Turkmen activists and the Syrian Turkmen National Movement Party released a statement on Wednesday calling on Turkey to take immediate action in order to protect the lives of Turkmens who have been victimised in Syria.

The statement said, "Both the ISIS and the PYD [PKK’s Syrian affiliate] force 15,000 Turkmens living in Hammam Turkmen town and its villages, to fight on their sides and threaten the locals with death if they refuse to join the fighting. Turkmens have also been forced to leave their homes and villages because of the ongoing fight since June 2," according to Daily Sabah.

Hammam is a town in the Tel Abyad district within the Raqqa province of Syria, which is located across the Turkish border town of Akcakale in Sanliurfa. 

"Syrian Turkmens are heading towards Akçakale border gate to seek refuge in Turkey. Al-Raqqah Turkmens are calling on Turkish people for immediate action to save their kin's lives and honour," the statement added.

Local media reported that Turkey has already started to accept a new wave of refugees from Syria - this time the Turkmens.

Sanliurfa Governor Izzettin Kucuk announced on Thursday that his province has accepted nearly 800 refugees and are continuing to take refugees.

Turkey hosts 1.7 million Syrian refugees who escaped the violence in their country in large numbers after the escalation of the Syrian civil war in 2012.

TRTWorld and agencies