While CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu remained hawkish in his anti-Syria message during his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, the MHP leader, Devlet Bahçeli, adopted a more cautious stance and said Turkey should consider a declaration of war as the “last option on the table.”
An unarmed Turkish plane was shot down in international airspace on June 22 by Syrian security forces without warning. The plane was on a solo mission to test Turkey’s radar system and the mission had no connection with the crisis in the neighboring country.
“The downing of a Turkish jet by Syria is not something that can be forgiven,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, putting the blame for the Syrian attack on the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. “No one would dare to slap a Turkish plane in the past, but now our jet has been downed. We need to question this. The men who run Turkey should not forget [about the Syrian attack]. If [the patience of] a country is tested, then the future of that country is at risk. For this reason, such actions [like the downing of a jet] are no joke,” the CHP leader added, and called on the AK Party government to take strict measures in response to the attack.
The MHP leader, on the other hand, called for common sense in the wake of the attack despite condemning the Syrian administration for the downing of the Turkish jet. He said the MHP would support any decision or measure taken by the Turkish government in relation to the attack. “We need to be careful about one fact: The prospect of a war [with Syria] should be considered the last option on the table. We should not be deceived by provocations or by the encouragement of external forces,” Bahçeli stated. According to Bahçeli, a war between Turkey and Syria would serve the purpose of “international weapons barons.”
Bahçeli, in addition, spoke about bloody attacks staged against Turkish soldiers and civilians by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and suggested a nine-article formula to end acts of terror in Turkey.
“The address where the terrorist organization [PKK] hides and takes shelter is obvious to everybody. We all know that the Peshmerga leader in the north of Iraq aids and abets the terrorist organization, and stands by the [PKK’s] terrorist attacks in accordance with the directives he receives,” Bahçeli said in reference to Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, but without openly citing his name.
The MHP leader lashed out at the government for cooperating with Barzani’s government, arguing that the cooperation weakens the hand of Turkey in its search for an end to PKK terrorism. Turkey witnessed the bloodiest PKK attack in recent months last week, when a group of terrorists attacked a military outpost in southeastern Turkey with rockets and long-barrel rifles. A total of eight Turkish soldiers were killed in the attack, and 16 were wounded. According to Bahçeli, a peaceful method adopted by the AK Party government for the solution of the decades-old Kurdish question in Turkey is the main reason for the increased PKK violence in the country.
The AK Party favors a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish question, but the MHP says Turkey has no Kurdish question and that PKK terrorism can only be settled by the use of force. Listing his suggestions for a solution to the problem of PKK terrorism in Turkey, the MHP leader said terrorism cannot be ended unless the Turkish flag flies over the Kandil Mountains, which lie about 100 kilometers outside of Turkey, close to the Iran-Iraq border. The mountains have long been a major command center for the PKK.
“The government should put the cross-border operation motion it obtained from Parliament into action, and flatten all of Kandil [with bombs], the PKK should be made to lay down their arms without any preconditions; the Turkish judiciary should do what is required to members of the terrorist organization; a large-scale investigation should be opened against the terrorist and separatist group,” said Bahçeli.
“Our citizens who have Kurdish backgrounds should not be affiliated with the terrorist PKK; we should support the identity of being Turks and forget about the absurdity of ‘Turkishness’; necessary steps should be taken for the socio-development of the eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey; the central Iraqi administration should either destroy the ‘nests of terror’ on its territory or respect [possible] Turkish military operation [in Kandil]; we should not make concessions for the US or any other country in our anti-PKK policy,” Bahçeli said when listing his formula to end the PKK violence.
Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Co-chairwoman Gülten Kışanak also addressed her party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, stating the BDP’s opposition to any retaliatory action against Syria.