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Turkey's arrest of HDP leaders, reaction out of fear: Analyst

Turkish anti-riot police push away protesters at Kadikoy district in Istanbul, on November 6, 2016, during a demonstration against the arrest of nine MPs of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), including the two co-leaders. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish police have arrested the two co-leaders of pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) along with nine other lawmakers from the party. They were charged with alleged membership and promotion of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Catherine Shakdam, programs director of Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies, believes Turkey is seeking to control the Kurdish issue with the arrest of HDP leaders and lawmakers.

“I think Ankara is preempting on the fact that the Kurds will ask for independence now especially looking at what is happening in Syria and Iraq,” the analyst told Press TV.

She also opined that the arrests are just “a reaction out of fear” to the position Washington has taken on the Kurds in a bid to reduce Ankara’s influence in the Middle East.   

“So he is trying to regain control of the situation and the only way President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan knows how is through coercion, violence, repression, [and] oppression, so this is what he is trying to do. He is trying to force the Kurds to move quieter and not play any role in Turkey’s political life,” she said.  

The analyst also noted that President Erdogan is an “autocrat” and a “dictator,” who has relied on the military to assert his power, adding that it is no surprise that he is using violence to silence his opponents in order to make sure that they do not pose a threat.

Elsewhere in her remarks, Shakdam said Turkey has chosen its allies in the fight for the control of the Middle East “very wrongly.”

She went on to say that President Erdogan thought to be very well in control of the political future of Turkey and that of the entire region, but he was cheated by the United States.

Shakdam also argued that Erdogan needs to take a step back and “rethink” his position with regard to the Middle East.

However, she said, Erdogan feels very much entitled to what happens to Syria’s political future and President Bashar al-Assad, so it would be difficult to have him renege on his previous position.

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