MESOP NEWS TODAYS GENERAL COMMENTARY ON AFRIN – TURKEY & PKK/PYD – By SHERI LAIZER The Syrian Problem is Turkey
HI DEAR MESOP FRIENDS : Hi Hans
Perhaps you would like to use this on Afrin – I am doing part 2 on the arrogance of the PYD/HDP/HK/PKK that provokes excessive violence on the part of their image in the mirror, the authoritation Turkish state!
Sheri Laizer | Exclusive to Ekurd.net – 30 Jan 2018 – The Turkish dictator is 100 times more dangerous than Bashar al-Assad
The Republic of Turkey under Erdoğan’s leadership engages in a right-wing nationalist discourse to justify each incursion abroad and purge at home. The leader is the most pro-Islamist conservative figure to take control since the Republic’s creation. Despite its multi-ethnic population the AKP fully reinforces the Turkish nation’s anti-pluralist motto, “Turkey is for the Turks – one nation, one language, one flag.”
Turkish dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ’s latest military invasion of the historic Kurdish settlement in Afrin – cynically dubbed ‘Operation Olive branch’ – belies the fact that not only does Turkey have no legitimate grounds for being there, the ‘Free Syrian Army’ has long since been transformed into a confederation of mercenaries that would be more aptly named the “Turkish Vanguard.”
From the outset that the Arab Spring set Syria alight, Erdoğan hosted the thinly-camouflaged Salafist Syrian opposition forces as if they were genuine pro-democracy grass roots dissidents. But the pro-democratic reform minority that gathered in Istanbul were soon overtaken by Sunni extremists backed by the AKP leader. Before long it became abundantly clear that in response the Syrian President was ”not incorrect to claim that foreigners were trying to take over his country”1. Footage broadcast in the early period of the Syrian conflict was also clear proof of the true identity of the ‘opposition forces.’
Once Sunni extremist entities like Jabhat al Nusra – now Jabhat al-Sham, Ahrar al Sham and ISIS inter alia, had secured a foothold in Syria and proclaimed control over swathes of Syrian territory leading to the announcement of the IS Caliphate, internal rivalries and the US tactical alliance with the ‘apostate’ Kurdish PYD, Erdoğan ’s main target became the Kurdish forces rather than the jihadists. His strategy in this regard has remained consistent.
By August 2016, Turkey’s proxy forces were routinely committing violent abuses against Kurds in Jarablus. Manbij and Al-Bab after the YPG forces had displaced ISIS. ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ represented Erdoğan’s endeavour to block a Kurdish corridor from operating between Afrin and Kobane. At the same time, Erdoğan’s stand was endorsed by fellow Sunni oil partner, the KDP leader, Massoud Barzani, meeting in Ankara to secure further business for Erbil.
Erdoğan could not stomach the PYD/YPG’s boldness. The Kurdish enclave of Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo was also targeted ostensibly owing to the YPG’s presence – Aleppo, like Afrin, has always had an indigenous Kurdish community. Amnesty International and the UN had condemned the abuses being carried out by the ‘opposition’ groups there observing, “The armed groups carrying out indiscriminate attacks on the Sheikh Maqsoud area are part of the Fatah Halab military coalition which includes: Islamic Movement of Ahrar ash-Sham, Army of Islam, al-Shamia Front, Brigade of Sultan Murad, Sultan Fatih Battalions, Fa Istaqim Kama Omirt Battalions, Nour al-Deen Zinki Battalions, 13 Brigade, 16 Brigade, 1st Regiment (al-Foj al-Awal) and Abu Omara Battalions.”2
Even more than Saudi Arabia, it has been Recep Tayyib Erdoğan that is above all responsible for the massive infiltration into Syria by Sunni extremist fighters. He has also trained and armed them. While Bashar al-Assad’s government has been accused of human rights abuses and of using chemical weapons Erdoğan has not once blinked when it comes to doing the same at home and in the countries of his neighbours3.
Secure in the knowledge that those of his business partners ensconced in the morally bankrupt parliaments of the West and sub-bodies with vested energy interests like the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Kurdistan4 will allow him a free hand, the Turkish menace appears unchastised.
President Erdoğan cannot abide that ethnic Kurds across the border successfully brought an enclave under their own control beneath the banners of the PYD given the latter’s organic relationship with the PKK. The writing has always been on the wall. With ISIS more or less under control for the moment, Erdoğan seized the opportunity: strike and destroy. On 21st January he declared war on Afrin. Scores of ordinary Kurdish and Arab families, including IDPs and Syrian refugees have already been killed or maimed. Robert Fisk decried the random nature of targets selected in the Turkish strikes:
“…Ahmad Kindy …who took his family out of the village when Turkey’s Olive Branch first cast its shadow over the land early on 21 January, but who unwisely returned and was hit in the back by shrapnel. “There were no YPG fighters there,” he said. But what if there were? Does that justify the pain of 15-year old Dananda Sido from the village of Adamo, terribly wounded in the chest and legs who turns from us in tears when we try to speak to her in the Afrin Hospital? Or that of 20-year old Kifah Moussa, who was working in her family’s chicken farm at Maryameen when Turkish planes dropped a bomb on the building at midday, killing an entire family of eight people beside her? She was hit in the chest. She smiles bravely at Dr Palot and myself, although it is unclear if she knows that her brother is among the dead…”5
The unacceptable list of the innocent dead, dying and injured Syrians goes on…
The misnomer – Free Syrian Army – AKA Turkish Terror Vanguard
Assad had swiftly condemned the invasion when the Turkish troops supported by ‘armored vehicles, special forces and infantry regiments’ along with its mercenaries in the Free Syrian Army advanced 5 kilometers inside the northwestern region of Afrin: “The brutal Turkish aggression on the Syrian town of Afrin cannot be separated from the Turkish regime’s policy from the first day of Syria’s crisis, which was essentially built on supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations, whatever their names,” president Assad said in statements carried by Syria’s official news agency SANA.“6
Meanwhile at home in Turkey the recent justification for a sixth extension of ‘emergency rule’ in January equally relies on the Kurdish (and opposition) menace labelled ‘security challenges’ – but it is Erdoğan himself that is the greatest threat to regional and domestic security. At home in Turkey: ‘Since 2016 nearly 50,000 people have been arrested.’8
The PKK had rolled over on its back and shown its belly to Erdoğan during the ‘peace talks’ that collapsed in 2015  – but Erdoğan had not been satisfied because he had began to lose popularity over it. It was time to bite harder, to return to the terror tactics of the 1990s. His actions in stirring up the hornet’s net in Syria were paying off through the terror conduit across Turkey’s southern borders and in the bloody reprisals of the Free Syrian Army it had trained and backed since 2012. One female recruit had told the BBC, “There is a special training programme based in Turkey at secret camps run by the Turkish military…10
Back in 2012, just a year into the Syrian conflict, the original officers that had quit the Syrian Army to form the FSA had also quit the increasingly radical group. Turkey had backed it from the outset but it now operates as a parallel Turkish force composed of Turkmen and Sunni Arabs and bolstered by foreign recruits. Sub-groups call themselves names like the Sultan Othman Militia and a Turkmeni brigade, the Sultan Murad (Sultan Murat Tümeni) Division – further evidence that they – like their backer in chief – embrace a revived Pan-Turanian Ottoman vision that includes the vision of a Sunni Caliphate under the auspices of Neo-Ottomanism. The Sultan Murad Division has been accused of gross human rights abuses including rape, torture and the deliberate targeting of civilians – particularly those of Kurdish origin.
Turkey must be held responsible in very large part for playing a significant role in the refugee crisis not only through its ongoing misadventure in Syria but in its repressive policies leading a fresh generation to flee persecution for their political beliefs or meet violence with violence as with the extreme Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK)11.
Paying Turkey to aid Europe with the refugee crisis was a spectacular blunder – instead of easing the human catastrophe, Turkish police routinely turn a blind eye with a backhander to allow asylum seekers to leave Turkey’s shores while others lock them up only to release them anew 12.
Erdoğan as ‘Exterminator’
What grand delusions the Turkish dictator is suffering! Erdoğan ’s militaristic policies do little other than to stimulate a new generation to race hatred and religious bigotry far from achieving democratic progress in Turkey.
Misguided US policy in the region can also be blamed for the oil business enjoyed by many of the government’s key players in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish companies, including those linked to Erdoğan and his son-in-law are also complicit just as they were in the export and trade of ISIS oil.
Commentator, David Romano aptly remarked in Rudaw this week, “A much better American statement would have stated that Turkey was never attacked or even threatened from Afrin, demand an immediate stop to the unjustified operation and promise a firm American commitment to keep the Turkey-Syrian border peaceful and quiet. Unfortunately, such is apparently too much to wish for from the White House or State Department these days…” but this ignores that Trump, Tillerson et al are business partners alongside the Turks in Iraq and deeply involved for personal gain, as sketched in my paper last year, Iraqi Kurdistan: Sold Out.13
Recall, when it came to Turkey’s role in the IS invasion and destruction of Mosul in 2014 Erdoğan ’s deals with the ruling families prioritized oil wealth over the lives of the Yazidi Kurds. Turkey had been well aware of the impending attack on Mosul at least two to three weeks before. When ISIS launched its invasion of Mosul, no Turkish Embassy staff were tortured, beheaded or killed, and no harm came to the more then 300 Turkish lorry drivers that were in Mosul at the time. Mosul’s bank vaults were also reputedly emptied at the same time.
Look no further than Turkey
“Energy cooperation between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Turkish government is the single greatest factor for energy companies’ involvement in the region and the commercial realization of this cooperation is no doubt the result of high-level political alignment.”14
When IS was making its greatest gains in northern Iraq in June 2014 Erdoğan was busy signing a 50-year oil pact with Iraqi Kurdistan. PUK official, Sherko Hama Amin, claimed that the PUK was a co-signatory along with the KDP 15 and the deal almost certainly included the deployment of Turkish troops, protection of the KDP and its allies and pursuit of the PKK. 16
Afrin invasion is not ‘defence’
Erdoğan strides the long road to nowhere: The goals he boasts of can never be secured through slaughter but are the stepping stones of hatred.
Turkey’s attacks on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin are being masked as ‘defence’. No Kurdish entity threatened to attack Turkey from Afrin. Protests against the invasion have been banned by the Ankara governor. At the same time the Turkish air force has launched strike against the PKK in northern Iraq.
Ahval news site reported on the clampdown on anti-invasion opinion in Turkey and that some 40 people commenting on social media had already been detained. “The detainees, mostly journalists and Kurdish politicians, face a range of charges including “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order”, “terrorist propaganda” and “hate speech”…17
Members of the central committee of the Turkish Medical Association were also arrested for opposing Turkey’s military adventures in Syria after sticking to the pro-peace statement they had produced:
“Each armed conflict, each war brings along human tragedy by causing irremediable problems in terms of physical, mental, social and environmental health…As members of a profession who have taken an oath to save lives we constantly keep in mind our first and foremost duty to defend life and commit to maintain the environment of peace.”
Erdoğan responded by criticising the group in a speech. 18
If Erdoğan believes his tactics lead anywhere but death, he need only review the statistics of the more then three-decade long conflict with the PKK. His challengers are not about to give up. Not even the ‘sandwich operation’ conducted against the PKK way back in 1992 between the Turkish armed forces backed by the KDP and PUK achieved any lasting Turkish victory over the PKK.
“We are determined. Afrin will be sorted out. We will take no step back,” Erdoğan said in a televised speech in Ankara.”19
Conversely, Erdoğan strides the long road to nowhere: The goals he boasts of can never be secured through slaughter: they are but the stepping stones to hatred.
6 http://alwaght.com/en/News/122206 via @EnglishAlwaght
9 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-turkey-kurds/turkeys-Erdoğan -peace-process-with-kurdish-militants-impossible-idUSKCN0Q20UV20150728
16 Op. Cit.
19 https://www.dailysabah.com/war-on-terror/2018/01/23/turkey-will-not-step-back-from-afrin-operation-Erdoğan -says
Sheri Laizer, a Middle East and North African expert specialist and well known commentator on the Kurdish issue. She is a senior contributing writer for Ekurd.net. More about Sheri Laizer see below.
The opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of Ekurd.net or its editors.