Erdogan warns of ‘heavy price’ for protests against Syria operation

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (REUTERS)
Updated 22 January 2018
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Erdogan warns of ‘heavy price’ for protests against Syria operation

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sunday of a “heavy price” for protests against Turkey’s military operation against Syrian Kurdish militia, after the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) called on people to take to the streets.
“Some HDP representatives are calling on my Kurdish citizens to get out into the squares. Until now, not many people have come out,” Erdogan said in the northwestern province of Bursa.
“But let me say this here... Do not even think about it! There will be a heavy price to pay by those who respond to this call,” he added.
“This is a national fight. We will crush whoever opposes us in this national fight and go on.”
He earlier also hit out at the calls, telling the HDP that they were being watched.
“You will not be able to have a free hand. Hey HDP... hey PKK, wherever you come out, know this: our security forces will be breathing down your neck,” Erdogan vowed.
His warnings came a day after Turkey launched an operation with Syrian rebels to oust the Syrian Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) militia from Afrin.
Turkey views the YPG militia as “terrorists” linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting against the Turkish state since 1984.
Ankara also often accuses the HDP of being a political front for the PKK, claims which the party strongly denies.


Turkey to expand cross-border military operations

Turkish President Erdogan has vowed to expand operations in northern Syria. (AFP)
Updated 5 min 24 sec ago
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Turkey to expand cross-border military operations

  • We will not surrender to those who present themselves as a strategic partner
  • Beijing first commented on the issue on Friday in a Foreign Ministry statement in which it offered moral support to Turkey

SHANGHAI: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) congress that Turkey would press on with and expand its cross-border military operations.
Turkey sent troops into northern Syria two years ago to fight against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-Arab alliance that has received extensive backing from the US-led coalition in the battle against Daesh.
But Turkey accuses the YPG of being the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group blacklisted by Ankara and its Western allies.
The Turkish army has also increased its strikes against PKK rear bases in the north of Iraq in the past few months.
Erdogan also declared on Saturday that his country would not be cowed by the US.
The two countries are at odds over Turkey’s detention of an American pastor, which has triggered a trade row and sent the local currency the lira into a tailspin.

Strategic target
“We will not surrender to those who present themselves as a strategic partner while at the same time trying to make us a strategic target,” Erdogan said at the congress.
“Some people threaten us with economy, sanctions, foreign currency exchange rates, interest rates and inflation. We know your shenanigans and we will defy you.”
Last week, US President Donald Trump said he had doubled the tariffs on aluminum and steel tariffs from Turkey, prompting Ankara to sharply hike tariffs on several US products.
And Turkey on Friday threatened to respond in kind if Washington imposed further sanctions, while a court rejected another appeal to free pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held for almost two years on terror charges.
The lira has nosedived against the dollar, dropping as much as 20 percent on one day last week. It sunk to a low of well over seven to the dollar earlier this week but was trading at just over six to the dollar on Friday — a loss of 40 percent since the start of the year.
The collapse of the currency has been blamed both on the tensions with the US and Erdogan’s increasing hold on Turkey’s economy and his refusal to allow the central bank to raise interest rates.
On Saturday, China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, told Turkey’s foreign minister that Beijing supports the Turkish government’s efforts to safeguard security and economic stability and believes that it will overcome its “temporary difficulties.”
China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Wang had made the comments in a phone call with the Turkish Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The Turkish lira has lost a third of its value against the dollar this year as worsening relations between Turkey and the US added to losses driven by concerns over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s influence on monetary policy.
Cavusoglu spoke about the current situation in Turkey during the phone call and said his government was willing to strengthen strategic communication with China, the statement said.
Beijing first commented on the issue on Friday in a Foreign Ministry statement in which it offered moral support to Turkey.