T urkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to conduct a potential military action in the northern Iraqi Shingal region.
On Tuesday, Erdogan said Turkey would extend ist ongoing „Euphrates Shield“ operation in Syria to Iraq in order to prevent the creation of a „second Qandil“, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. Qandil is where the Kurdish Kurdistan Workers ‘ Party (PKK) has mantained its headquarters.
Erdogan, speaking at a ceremony for relatives of martyrs and army veterans in Ankara, said Turkey, in general, would not accept the PKK´s presence in northern Iraq: “We will go on this [Operation Euphrates Shield] campaign in Syria and Iraq, and now in Kirkuk, Mosul, Tal Afar and Sinjar. Why? Sinjar is about to be the new Qandil [for PKK]. Thus, we cannot allow it to happen in Sinjar, because there is PKK there.”
Prior to his latest remarks, Turkey has deployed, with the permission of the northern Iraqi president of the Kurdish autonomous region Massoud Barzani, Turkish troops to Bashiqa, a town mostly inhabited by Ezidis. The official line is that Turkey is supposed to train local Sunnis and Kurdish Peshmerga forces against the Islamic State – against the will of the Iraqi central government.
Turkish Bordo Bereliler, known as “Kurd butchers”, training Peshmerga forces
The Turkish government, however, has in reality been trying to expand its zones of influence in Mosul, which Turkey has been claiming for decades. But also to prevent the PKK from broadening its influence and creating a corridor from Qandil via Bashiqa to Shingal.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the PKK´s rival and party of Massoud Barzani, seems keen to prevent the growing influence of the PKK with the help of Turkey. In Shingal, a power struggle between those two parties has already been going on for over two years. The PKK marched into Shingal when Peshmerga militias close to the KDP ran away and abandoned Ezidi civilians to the Islamic State. Turkey maintains close political and economic ties with the KDP of Massoud Barzani, while at the same time destroying Kurdish villages and killing Kurdish fighters in Syria.
Ezidis, with growing concern, are observing how their last traditional settlement areas are becoming pawns of parties and states. Besides the struggle against the ongoing genocide, Ezidis now have to fear possible airstrikes directed at their major settlement area. Turkey has lately been bombing alleged PKK targets, resulting in the death of several civilians in Zergele.