Amid Mosul offensive, Turkey denounces US policy, stakes claims in Balkans

Alex Lantier,
World Socialist Web Site.

The US-directed attack on Mosul and fallout from the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July, backed by Washington and the European Union (EU), is fueling explosive tensions inside Turkey and in Turkey’s relations with the major imperialist powers.

Desperate to stabilize his regime, Erdogan is stoking nationalist sentiment and implicitly reserving the right to intervene militarily across the former Ottoman empire. In several incendiary speeches, he has staked territorial claims not only in the Middle East, but in the Caucasus and, perhaps most explosively, in the Balkans. This drew condemnation from officials in Greece, which fought three wars with Turkey in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and nearly went to war with Turkey amid the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Speaking Monday in Istanbul, Erdogan attacked Washington for blocking Turkish participation in the Mosul attack—in which it is relying on ethnic Kurdish militias, towards which the Turkish government is deeply hostile—and for harboring the US-based cleric Feithullah Gulen, the leader of the Gulen movement that Erdogan accuses of masterminding the July coup.

“Operations are underway in Mosul,” Erdogan declared. “What do they say? They say, ‘May Turkey not enter Mosul!’ How come I don’t enter? I have a 350-km border and I am under threat from across that border. … Turkey will take part in the Mosul operation and hold a seat at the table. It is out of the question for us to remain outside. Because there is history in Mosul for us.”

In a previous October 14 speech, Erdogan had bluntly attacked Washington for relying on Kurdish militias in Mosul: “Shame on you! Is your partner in NATO the [Kurdish] PYD/YPG [militias] or is it Turkey? If it is Turkey, then you must come to the table with us and take your step with us.”

In Istanbul, Erdogan also accused Washington of complicity with terrorism due to its alliance with Gulen: “How come a judicial system can protect terrorist organizations and terrorist leaders? How come the Green Card is provided to a terrorist? He is living in luxury on a 400-acre farm and managing his operation from there? Whom do you think you are deceiving?”
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