Skip to main content

Turkey’s post-referendum fury exposes armed ‘volunteers’

Turkey’s nationalist opposition leader has warned of 5,000 volunteers ready to fight for the Turkmens in Kirkuk, but Turkey’s own Kurds seem to be the actual target of the threat.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli addresses his supporters during a rally for the upcoming referendum, in Istanbul, Turkey, April 9, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal - RC1C00872BD0
Read in 

Since the Iraqi Kurds voted for independence Sept. 25, Turkey has been hurling threats of political, economic and military sanctions against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Turkey’s nationalist opposition leader has added an unprecedented warning to the barrage of fury coming out of Ankara: to send thousands of volunteers to defend the Turkmen minority in northern Iraq.

According to Devlet Bahceli, the head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Ankara should consider the referendum a “cause of war.” In a Sept. 27 statement, Bahceli, who has been a de facto ally of the ruling party for some time, slammed the government for failing to enact “concrete” measures against the KRG. “At least 5,000 [nationalist] volunteers are waiting, ready to join the struggle for existence, unity and peace in the Turkmen-populated … cities, notably Kirkuk,” he said, referring to members of the Idealist Hearths, a youth organization affiliated with his party.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.