Iran, Turkey blame Kurds for domestic problems and protests to justify invasion, air bombings: expert

The Kurdish people live across a number of countries since they have no sovereign homeland

The Kurdish people face assaults from both sides as Turkey prepares to invade Syria and Iran runs an air campaign against Iraqi Kurdistan.

Turkish authorities arrested a Syrian Arab woman whom they claim confessed to a deadly bombing in an Istanbul market that killed six people and injured dozens of others. The authorities determined that she had entered the country on orders of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), but the group denied involvement. 

Erdogan used the attack to authorize the start of "Operation Sword-Claw," which started with targeted air strikes aimed to take out the People’s Defense Units (YPG), whom he also blamed for the bombing. 

A Kurdish general told Fox News last week that NATO ally Turkey is planning to carry out a massive ground invasion of Syria in an effort to target the same Kurdish groups that partnered with the U.S. military in its campaign against ISIS. 

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All countries surrounding Turkey have Kurds of some sort in them since the Kurdish people have no designated homeland. About 10% of Turkey's population is itself Kurdish, and some 40 million Kurds lived throughout the region as of 2019. 

As Turkey gets its wider offensive underway, the Kurdish people also face an offensive from Iran in northern Iraq. 

People inspect a site damaged by Turkish airstrikes that hit an electricity station in the village of Taql Baql, in Hasakeh province, Syria, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. The Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday that Turkey launched deadly airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for last week's deadly bomb attack in a bustling street in Istanbul. 

People inspect a site damaged by Turkish airstrikes that hit an electricity station in the village of Taql Baql, in Hasakeh province, Syria, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. The Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday that Turkey launched deadly airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for last week's deadly bomb attack in a bustling street in Istanbul.  (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad)

Iran has faced protests over the past three months following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Police allegedly beat and hospitalized the girl after determining she breached the country’s hijab (headscarf) laws. 

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Amini herself was Kurdish and lived in a Kurdish area of the country. Iran’s government has blamed the Kurdish movements for stoking the protests, which have spread to over 140 cities and towns across Iran.  

Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police last month, in Tehran, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. 

Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police last month, in Tehran, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.  (AP/Middle East Images, File)

Adel Bakawan, director of the French Research Centre on Iraq, argued that Iran has tried to turn the protests into a "divisive ethnic force," but failing to stop the protests from reaching a nationwide level, the government has turned towards a foreign enemy to blame for the protests. 

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"In recent days, Tehran has been lobbying the new government in Baghdad, which is dominated by pro-Iranian factions, to put pressure on the Kurdistan Regional Government to expel the KDPI and the Komala Party from Iraq," Bakawan told FRANCE 24.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the High School Students Research Project Final Competition and Award Ceremony at Bestepe Peopleâs Congress and Culture Center in Ankara, Turkey on June 2, 2022. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the High School Students Research Project Final Competition and Award Ceremony at Bestepe Peopleâs Congress and Culture Center in Ankara, Turkey on June 2, 2022.  (Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

He also noted that Erdogan’s offensive in Syria could serve to help the Turkish president unite his supporters ahead of a vital election to retain power, "distracting attention from his shoddy economic record." 

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"Erdogan is also keen to make use of growing discontent with the presence of 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, which people are expressing increasingly vociferously," Bakawan explained. "The Turkish president is trying to turn this issue to his electoral advantage."

Fox News' Matt London contributed to this report.