The Kurdish people face assaults from both sides as Turkey prepares to invade Syria and Iran conducts an air campaign against Iraqi Kurdistan.
Turkish authorities have arrested a Syrian Arab woman who they say confessed to a deadly bombing at an Istanbul market that killed six and injured dozens. Authorities determined that she had entered the country on orders from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but the group denied involvement.
Erdogan used the attack to authorize the start of “Operation Sword-Claw,” which began with targeted air strikes aimed at eliminating the People’s Defense Units (YPG), which he also blamed for the bombing.
A Kurdish general told Fox News last week that NATO ally Turkey is planning to carry out a massive ground invasion of Syria in an attempt to target the same Kurdish groups that have collaborated with the US military in its campaign against ISIS.
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All the countries surrounding Turkey have Kurds of some sort as the Kurdish people have no designated homeland. Around 10% of Turkey’s population is Kurds themselves, and as of 2019, around 40 million Kurds lived across the region.
As Turkey launches its largest offensive, the Kurdish people also face an offensive by Iran in Northern Iraq.
Iran has faced protests over the past three months following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Police allegedly beat and hospitalized the girl after determining that she violated the country’s hijab (veil) laws.
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Amini herself was Kurdish and lived in a Kurdish part of the country. The Iranian government has accused Kurdish movements of fueling the protests, which have spread to more than 140 cities and towns across Iran.
Adel Bakawan, director of the French Research Center on Iraq, said Iran had tried to turn the protests into a “divisive ethnic force,” but by failing to stop the protests from reaching a national level, the government is aimed at a foreign enemy because of the protests.
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“Over the past few days, Tehran has been lobbying the new government in Baghdad, dominated by pro-Iranian factions, to pressure the Kurdistan Regional Government to expel the KDPI and the Komala Party from Iraq,” Bakawan told FRANCE 24.
He also noted that Erdogan’s offensive in Syria could serve to help the Turkish president unite his supporters ahead of an election vital to retaining power, “by diverting attention away from his poor economic situation”.
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“Erdogan is also keen to exploit the growing discontent with the presence of 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, which people are expressing more and more noisily,” Bakawan explained. “The Turkish president is trying to turn the issue to his electoral advantage.”
Matt London of Fox News contributed to this report.