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Campaigns woo Kurdish voters as Turkish election nears

In an interview with Al-Monitor, veteran Kurdish politician Zubeyir Aydar spoke about the fight for the Kurdish vote ahead of Turkey's snap elections.
Zubeyir Aydar, president of the People's Congress of Kurdistan, addresses Kurdish protesters during a demonstration against alleged attacks perpetrated by the Turkish army against Kurds, in Brussels on August 8, 2015. Ankara has launched a two-pronged "anti-terror" offensive against jihadists in Syria and PKK militants based in northern Iraq after a series of attacks on Turkish soil, including a suicide bombing blamed on IS that killed 32 pro-Kurdish activists in the town of Suruc. The PKK, which accuses th

As the June 24 snap polls in Turkey draw nearer, the top contenders are jockeying to draw Kurdish voters, whose backing could be game-changing. The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is the largest pro-Kurdish bloc and commands at least 11% of the vote. Its presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, is running from behind bars, and other opposition leaders have called for his release. His halo effect — albeit from jail — is expected to carry the HDP into the parliament once again, likely robbing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of its majority. Though recent polls show him slipping, the prevailing wisdom is that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will win the presidential contest that will be held concurrently with the parliamentary vote. But should he fail to win in a first round of balloting, would Erdogan reach out to the Kurds for their support?

Al-Monitor turned to veteran Kurdish politician Zubeyir Aydar for his views. Aydar, a former lawmaker in the Turkish parliament, lives in exile in Brussels. He serves on the executive board of the Kurdish National Congress. The group has close links to imprisoned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. Aydar was among a group of Kurdish officials who met secretly with members of Turkey’s national intelligence agency MIT, including its current boss Hakan Fidan, during the peace talks held in Oslo (2009-2011). Aydar and fellow Kurdish negotiators are now on Turkey’s most wanted list. Here are some of the highlights of the interview at the congress' Brussels’ headquarters:

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