In an interview with the BBC, top PKK leader Cemil Bayik says he believes Turkey’s government has wanted ISIS to succeed as a way of tamping down Kurdish nationalism, and is protecting ISIS by attacking Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria.
“The Turkish claim they are fighting ISIS but in fact they are fighting the PKK,” Bayik insisted, noting that since Turkey started hyping offensives against both groups there’ve been virtually no attacks on ISIS. By contrast Turkey seems to be much more aggressively going after PKK targets.
Other Kurdish officials echoed this sentiment, saying they don’t believe the Syria “safe zone” is going to target ISIS territory, but will rather end up being carved mostly out of Kurdish territory in Syria. Though the US and Turkey have agreed in principle on the zone, they have not defined where it will be.
Despite this anger at President Erdogan, Bayik called for Turkey and the PKK to return to peace talks, saying there was no other way forward but to end the fighting and start negotiating again. Most of the leadership on both sides, however, have said they don’t believe that will happen, and the 30+ year war seems set to escalate once again.