Turkey has strongly opposed Sweden’s application to join NATO by criticising its ostensibly lenient treatment of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Consequently, the ruling Social Democrats have sought to make amends by stressing that Stockholm considers the PKK to be terrorists, despite the risk of alienating Kurdish allies.
Member of Parliament, Amineh Kakabaveh, has declared that she will no longer support the Swedish government as it seeks NATO membership.
The 51-year-old former member of the Left Party who is of Iranian Kurdish descent is worried that the ruling Social Democrats are “giving in” to Turkey by branding the Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK) – or Kurdistan Workers’ Party – a terrorist group.
“I thought better of [Prime Minister] Magdalena Andersson”, Kakabaveh told daily Swedish newspaper Expressen.
In November 2021, the Social Democrats secured the post of prime minister for Andersson by making a deal with maverick Kakabaveh. She promised to support Andersson in exchange for the Social Democrats cooperating with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), established in Syria as a branch of the PKK.
As a consequence of Sweden – alongside Finland – applying for NATO membership, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has harshly rebuked Sweden for tolerating the PKK, which is classified by the EU as a terrorist organisation.
To appease Turkey and overcome its opposition to Sweden joining the alliance, Foreign Minister Ann Linde emphasised that Sweden also considers the PKK to be a terrorist group.
As a result, Kakabaveh expressed her disappointment with the government.
“I think that Sweden will to some extent give in to Erdogan’s demands, and so it is the Kurds who end up in trouble”, she told Expressen.
According to Kakabaveh, the government has already “lost some weight” by calling the PKK terrorists.
Kakabaveh furthermore stressed that the Social Democrats failed to keep their end of their bargain with her, as Sweden’s Security Service – Säpo – still regards PYD sympathisers as terrorists, despite cooperation with the ruling party.
As long as this is the case, Kakabaveh announced, the party can no longer count on her support in the parliament.
Kakabaveh is a former Peshmerga fighter who became a social worker and later a lawmaker. She is an avowed feminist from the Left Party, which she left as a result of a lengthy wrangle with its leadership.
Earlier, Turkey said it cannot accept Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO, with President Erdogan calling it “impossible”.
“Turkey cannot say ‘Yes’ to NATO membership for Finland and Sweden. It is impossible – no offence. Delegations need not bother to travel to Turkey in an attempt to convince Ankara to approve their applications,” Erdogan said as he vetoed the expansion of the North Atlantic alliance.
Previously, Turkey accused the two Nordic states of harbouring “terrorists” – a reference to Kurds allegedly linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist organisation.