Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials for “politicizing” the Turkish military’s cross-border “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s northwestern district of Afrin.
“The Afrin operation is a state operation, not a political operation,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Feb. 13, addressing his party group at parliament.
“It is a national duty, not a party duty. You want to transform a national duty into a party duty. That is called treason to army and country. I will not let it happen,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu said two state officials, Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Office (MIT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan had conducted international meetings to enable the operation.
He said “political actors were not involved and they weren’t taken seriously.”
Stating that the CHP had been supporting the Afrin operation for “the survival of the state,” Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for “instrumentalizing” the operation.
“It is not your army that went there but this nation’s army. My son is a soldier, he did not escape his military duty. My son did not take a medical report [to skip military service]. Now I am asking you [Erdoğan] what happened to your children?” he said.
“A person that hides his children from military service claims to be a patriot. An unpatriotic man uses pompous language for nationalism. He is unpatriotic,” he added, arguing that Erdoğan’s children did not serve their obligatory military duty.
On Feb. 12, Erdoğan said “everybody wants to go to Afrin except Kemal’s team,” during his visit to a tire shop in Ankara’s İskitler province.
“Our nation, which hit the streets on July 15, is now waiting for our instruction in Afrin,” Erdoğan told local shopkeepers who said “they are ready to go to Afrin.”
The president was referring to the 2016 coup attempt and the civil resistance that spontaneously arose to counter it.