Pro-government media published similar headlines on Friday, praising the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) and chastising the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) after several high Justice and Development Party (AK Party) officials made statements demonizing the latter.
Turkish newspapers were accused of bashing the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political wing of the YPG after the group seized the northern Syrian town of Tel Abyad from ISIL, which had been in control of the town for over two years. The YPG, assisted by US-led air strikes and a faction of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) named Burkan el Fırat, consolidated its grip over the 400-kilometer region adjacent to Turkey’s border, when on Monday it seized Tel Abyad.
The capture of the border town by Kurdish forces not only allows for the connecting of the cantons Cizire in the east and Kobani in the west but also cuts off a vital supply line to ISIL’s smuggling routes. Retaining control of Tel Abyad had allowed ISIL to import foreign jihadi fighters, who were traveling to Syria via Turkey, as well as smuggle into Syria weapons, munitions and logistical equipment. Tel Abyad also served as the supply route to Raqqa, ISIL’s self-proclaimed capital in northern Syria.
The Sabah daily, known to be a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), on Friday, went out with the headline: “PYD is more dangerous than DAESH [Arabic acronym for ISIL].”
Sabah claimed to have received information from military personnel in Ankara, who allegedly stated that even though ISIL could be wiped out within two to three years, the formation of a Kurdish block in the region could have much longer lasting effects. The pro-government daily also claimed that the PYD were not allowing Turkmens and Arabs from Tel Abyad to return to their towns and hinted that the real target of the Kurdish militants is actually Turkey.
Similarly on Friday the Star daily went with the headline: “PYD has closed the door” claiming a potential threat of ethnic cleansing of Syrian Arabs and Turkmens in the region by the Kurdish forces. Star claims that after the PYD, an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), took control of Tel Abyad on Monday, it is only allowing Kurds to return in a bid to shift the balance of demographics in favor of the Kurds.
Likewise, headlines demonizing the YPG and suggesting that ISIL was better and more humane than the Kurdish fighters can be found in the Yeni Akit daily, as well as the Akşam daily.
HDP deputy: Sabah mindset as dangerous as ISIL’s
People’s Democracy Party (HDP) deputy İdris Baluken tweeted on Friday that the mindset of Sabah was as dangerous as ISIL’s, adding to his tweet the hashtag #WereAllPYD in support of the Kurdish militant group. Another Twitter user, Mehmet Altan fan page dedicated to the professor of economics at Istanbul University, wrote that the “pool media” was advertising ISIL which “beheads people, burns people [alive], rapes and sells women [into slavery].”
The term “pool media is used to describe the media corporations that were allegedly purchased by a group of businessmen who had formed a pool of funds to purchase the group as per the instruction of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in return for privileged treatment in public tenders.
The move by the daily’s comes after several high ranking AK Party figures such as Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said the Kurdish militia fighters are persecuting civilians in northern Syria and forcing them to flee in a similar way as ISIL militants and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
“Daesh attacks and kills those it captures. The PYD/PKK seize certain regions and force people living there to migrate,” Çavuşoğlu told Turkish state broadcaster TRT recently. “It doesn’t matter who comes; the regime, Daesh, the PYD, they are all persecuting civilians,” he said.
Also Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has said that Turkey sees signs of ethnic cleansing by both Kurdish and Islamic militant groups as they fight for control of parts of northern Syria.”We see that there are signs pointing towards a kind of ethnic cleansing,” Arinc told reporters at a press conference following a Cabinet meeting late on Monday, identifying those involved as both the Kurdish YPG forces and ISIL.