Iraqi Kurds Join Pro-Erdogan Protests

The square facing the Turkish consulate in the city of Erbil, the largest city in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, had been experiencing over the past years demonstrations condemning the policies of the Turkish government headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Things, however, have changed, and the square has begun seeing demonstrations in which participants hold photos of Erdogan, his party’s logo and Turkish flags, while expressing fears of Kurdish-Turkish relations being affected if the demonstrations were to manage to topple the government of Erdogan.

On June 15, 2013, a group of Iraqi Kurds and Turks protested, waving pictures of Erdogan, the red Turkish flags, and the logo of the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) to express their support for Erdogan, who is facing internal protests.

Erbil has witnessed many demonstrations over the past years against Turkish policy concerning the bombing of the border areas of the Iraqi Kurdistan region by aircraft and artillery under the pretext of targeting PKK sites, or failing to grant the country’s Kurds their national and cultural rights.

The Turkish protests started on May 28, against a plan to develop Gezi Park in Taksim Square in downtown Istanbul, but demonstrations escalated and turned into anti-government protests across Turkey in response to the harsh treatment that protesters were exposed to from the authorities.

Lund Mirani, who was speaking in Kurdish and Turkish, led the protest and read a statement to the protesters in which he said they “fear the deterioration of Kurdish-Turkish relations if these opposition-led demonstrations managed to topple the government that is headed by the AKP.”

Mirani told Al-Monitor, “We believe that Erdogan is the first Turkish president to recognize the national rights of the Kurdish people in Turkey. He visited the Kurdistan region of Iraq and met with Kurdish leaders, which is an important step. We know very well that the Turkish opposition wants to eliminate all of these gains that have been achieved for the Turkish and Kurdish populations.”

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