Turkish PM signals operation in Iraq, slams autonomy claims

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggests possibility of full-scale cross-border operation against outlawed PKK camps in northern Iraq, condemning declarations of autonomy by several Turkish municipalities dominated by DRP and HDP politicians

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu and Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar attend funerals of recent fallen soldiers in eastern province of Van

Speaking during a TV interview on Thursday on the A Haber channel, Turkey's Prime Minister Davutoglu said, “Our armed forces and special units enter Iraq when necessary and come back, but we have not yet started a comprehensive ground operation."

He said a full-scale operation will be launched, if necessary, just like in 2008.

In February 2008, Turkish forces launched air strikes in northern Iraq backed by ground troops; the week-long operation was aimed at the outlawed PKK organisation which has bases in the mountainous region.

Davutoglu added, "In such a case, all necessary measures will be taken [to ensure the safety of] our soldiers but we have instructed them not to allow any activities that would undermine Turkey's security."

The prime minister also slammed declarations of local self-rule made by some Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) mayors in Turkey’s southeast.

“This is not Syria,” said Davutoglu, adding, “Nobody can announce cantons as they wish. In a democratic judicial state the administrative system and its functioning are settled.”

Davutoglu also spoke regarding scenes of HDP members being barred from going to the town of Cizre in Turkey’s southeast.

The town is currently under curfew.

Davutoglu said, “Every committee, even the AK Party committee, has to abide by the measures taken there to restore public order."

“When we say ‘public order’ everybody should follow [the rules].”

The prime minister said that security measures would be lifted “whenever the arms are delivered … whenever the mines are cleared, ditches are closed and conditions exist in which Cizre citizens are able to go around every neighborhood and street.”

“The [curfew] will end whenever necessary but at this time the bakeries are still operating. The necessary food is being supplied to residents. The curfew is not for agonising the public. The reason for the curfew is to prevent civilian casualties due to the mix of civilians with terrorists.”

Davutoglu said Turkey was using “two means” to combat the ongoing violence.

“Turkey has faced serious terror attacks recently. Yet, we have been attentive to use two means against these," said Davutoglu.

“One of them is democracy. We never comprised from democracy. The second is public order necessary for safety," he said.

“Democracy and public order are two elements complementing each other. If there is no public order there are no liberties. If democracy and liberties do not exist, public order turns into an authoritarian structure."

PKK talks

Regarding stalled talks with the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, Davutoglu said: “There is not a situation which necessitates talks with Imrali [the Sea of Marmara island where Ocalan is imprisoned]. The focal point of previous [talks] was disarmament... The talks in 2013 were framed around this.

“There is no need for talks before creating this type of will, approach or perspective.”

TRTWorld and agencies