HDP’s co-chair says AKP putting spotlight on Qandil, Manbij to win elections in Turkey

Sezai Temelli and Pervin Buldan.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Pervin Buldan said on Tuesday the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been trying to use Qandil and Manbij, places under the control of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants, as leverage to win the elections on June 24.

“The AKP has seen that they are losing, and now they want to move the elections to Manbij and Qandil. They want to campaign through these cities,” Buldan said at a rally in Diyarbakır on Tuesday.

The Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq, which host the headquarters of the PKK, have been a symbol since 2003 of counterterrorism measures taken by Turkey, while the Syrian city of Manbij has recently been occupied by YPG militants with the backing of the US.

HDP deputies consider the AKP’s rhetoric concerning the destruction of the camp at Qandil and the removal of the YPG from Manbij as a threat to Kurdish people’s rights.

“We are calling on [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan: Keep your hands off the Kurdish people,” Buldan said.

“This country doesn’t want their children killed anymore. The people gathered here don’t want their brothers killed,” she added.

Yesterday the US and Turkey endorsed a roadmap regarding the security of Manbij after meetings in Washington.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Tuesday said the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militant group in northern Syria, would be disarmed as part of a roadmap that Turkey and the US endorsed yesterday, the NTV news website reported.

“I didn’t get the idea that they would designate the YPG as a terrorist group, but the YPG will be disarmed when they leave the city,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Çavuşoğlu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met on Monday in Washington and endorsed a roadmap for the security of the Syrian city of Manbij.

The Turkish foreign minister held a press conference in Turkey’s southern Antalya province on Tuesday to explain the details of the roadmap, indicating that he had discussed three stages of the plan with Pompeo.

Çavuşoğlu said in the first stage there will be preparatory meetings between the sides and in the second, the YPG will leave Manbij.

In the third stage, the US and Turkey will decide who will run the city. He also underlined there would be no involvement of a third country.

The YPG on Tuesday announced they would withdraw their military advisors from Manbij, Reuters reported.

“These steps are a chance both for Syria’s future and for fixing our frayed relationship with the US. For that, the roadmap must be fully implemented. Both sides are determined on this,” Çavuşoğlu said.

“We will implement this roadmap in Manbij now, and later on, we will start to implement it in other cities. Then the attitude of the US will be clear. Will it pull the YPG back, or what? There are many Arabs in the YPG as well. We said we don’t know about the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces]. All of them are equal to the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party],” he added.

According to Turkish authorities, the YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK. However, the US has been backing the SDF, a joint force mainly comprising YPG militants, as part of a plan to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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