International significance of the elections in Turkey
Minorities between hope and fear
Ethnic and religious minorities in the neighboring countries of Turkey are hoping for a regime change – as Dr. Kamal Sido, Middle East Consultant of the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), reported after a visit to the region. Especially for the Kurdish areas of Syria and Iraq, a change of power could mean an end to the daily attacks: “The people there are suffering a lot from the violence emanating from Turkey. When I was in Amuda in northern Syria, Turkish border guards shot a Kurdish farmer on his field – without any reason. He barely survived,” Sido stated in Göttingen on Friday. “Further to the south, near Tal Hamis, a vehicle was attacked by a Turkish drone. A young Kurdish woman who works for the Kurdish autonomous self-administration reported that her two young children now cry every time they hear something in the sky. They scream ‘Mom, mom… drones in the sky!’”. Many people are hoping that a new government in Turkey could put an end to the ongoing attacks with drones and other weapons against the civilian population.
A few days ago, Dr. Sido returned from a visit to the Kurdish areas of Northern Syria and Iraq. “The people are distressed – especially in the areas where everything was destroyed by the earthquake in early February. Turkey hardly permits any humanitarian aid, but arms deliveries for Islamist militias can cross the border without any problems,” Sido added. “If the Sunni-Islamist militias were no longer able to rely on support by Turkey, this could lead to an immediate improvement of the lives of all religious minority groups – the Alevis, the Yazidis, and also the Christians.”
However, in view of opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s announcements, there is little reason for euphoria. In interviews, Kilicdaroglu had announced plans for direct negotiations with the “legitimate government of Syria”, meaning the dictator and mass murderer Bashar al-Assad. In Turkey, he is involved in a system that is against everything Kurdish – following a Turkish-nationalist agenda. Much will depend on what policies a new government might pursue with regard to the Kurdish people and other minorities within and outside of Turkey – and on the question whether Kilicdaroglu has the courage to enter credible negotiations about a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question,” Sido added for consideration. “However, for that to happen, the opposition must first win the elections on May 14.”