Turkish Parliament Speaker Kahraman calls Afrin operation ‘jihad’

Turkish Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman

İsmail Kahraman, Turkish Parliament’s Speaker described on Saturday that Turkish military offensive against US-backed Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria’s Afrin as “jihad.”

Kahraman’s use of the Islamic definition of “holy war” came amid rising religious rhetoric from Turkish government circles targeting Kurdish political parties and the larger Kurdish movement in Syria and Turkey as well.

“Look, we are now in Afrin. We are a big state. Without jihad, there can be no progress, one cannot stand on their feet,” Kahraman said, praising the campaign against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that the US trained and armed in the war on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.

Kahraman had created a heated debate in 2016 when he told a convention of Muslim scholars that secularism would have no place in a new constitution for the country.

Meanwhile, according to a report by Kurdistan24, Turkish-Islamist autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that the YPG, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as ISIL had no “religion, faith, or God.”

During Friday prayers this week, sermons held some 90,000 mosques across the country focused on national unity and military victories of the Turkish past. Imams asked for the Turkish army’s victory in Afrin.

Last week, when Ankara launched its “Operation Olive Branch” to capture Afrin from the YPG, Turkey’s top Islamic body, the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), ordered clerics across the county to read aloud the 48th chapter of the Quran, Surah al-Fath, the chapter of Conquest.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) condemned Diyanet that serves only the Sunni Muslim majority population of the constitutionally secular country, over the order. Himself a scholar of Islam, HDP deputy Nimetullah Erdoğmus accused Diyanet of turning Quranic verses into “a motto of invasion and wars,” stating that the chapter in question was in fact related to a peace agreement, the seventh-century Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, between Islam’s Prophet Mohammad and his pagan Arab opponents.

Rami Abdel Rahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Germany’s Deutsche Welle on Saturday that Turkish government’s only genuine enemy in Syria is the Kurds. “Turkey allowed jihadi fighters to cross its border as early as 2011, as we have repeatedly reported. Turkey supports anything that harms the Kurds. Over a year ago, Turkey withdrew its armed forces from eastern Aleppo, which then was surrounded by President al-Assad’s troops to use them against the YPG and prevent Kurdish-controlled Afrin linking up with other Kurdish areas. By withdrawing its troops from Aleppo, Turkey effectively handed over the city to Damascus,” said Rami Abdel Rahman

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