Why Turkey’s dev­as­tat­ing at­tacks onAfrin must stop

Turkey has re­sumed lethal air strikes in Syria’s Kur­dish en­clave of Afrin. Afrin is al­ready crowded with tens of thou­sands of dis­placed peo­ple who have fled vi­o­lence in other parts of Syria over the years. Here, award­win­ning Kur­dish Syr­ian jour­nal­ist Rona

Western Mail - - WM2 -

IGATHERED my strength as much as I could to per­form the duty re­quired of me, to ver­ify the ou­tra­geous video on so­cial me­dia, where a group of men gath­ered around a mu­ti­lated body of a woman ly­ing on the ground with parts of her body re­moved, in­clud­ing her breasts.

The video was pub­lished by the Turk­ish-al­lied Syr­ian rebels with the com­ment: “Her body is look­ing beau­ti­ful.”

An­other man re­marked hap­pily: “There is an­other one.”

Their hor­rific boasts prove that they have com­mit­ted a crime in broad day­light to re-as­sert sex­ual male dom­i­na­tion by strip­ping and mu­ti­lat­ing Barin Kobani, a Kur­dish fe­male fighter near Afrin. Once again, it is a grisly sym­bol of the hor­rors that Syria is suf­fer­ing from th­ese ji­hadist fight­ers.

The video was con­firmed by The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights, a mon­i­tor­ing group based in Bri­tain, who said they re­ceived it from a Syr­ian rebel fight­ing with Turk­ish forces in the Afrin of­fen­sive.

For more than four years the Kur­dish peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Forces, or the YPG, have been bat­tling Is­lamic State across north­ern Syria to es­tab­lish a demo­cratic and fed­eral Syria along the lines of the Ro­java re­gion in the north.

Its make-up largely con­sists of Kur­dish YPG fight­ers and smaller groups of Arab, Turk­men and Ar­me­nian fight­ers.

The Kur­dish pesh­mer­gas in Iraq and the YPG in Syria are in­stru­men­tal in re-tak­ing swathes of ter­ri­to­ries, in­clud­ing Raqqa late last year from the ex­trem­ist group Isis.

But this vic­tory of de­feat­ing a fa­natic or­gan­i­sa­tion seems to be in­creas­ingly un­der­mined as ter­ror re­turns un­der the new ver­sion of Is­lamic State, the Turkey-backed FSA “Free Syr­ian Forces” who are now al­lied with Isis and Al-Qaeda.

Un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, the FSA was the main re­cip­i­ent of CIA fund­ing to oust As­sad, but this sup­port di­min­ished as Is­lamic State and Al-Qaeda be­came sig­nif­i­cantly in­flu­en­tial among them.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Turkey has taken the ini­tia­tive to gather those rebels and sup­port them as they did be­fore they armed the Syria op­po­si­tion, no­tably the ex­trem­ist Is­lamic wings rep­re­sented in the Mus­lim Brother­hood at the be­gin­ning of the Syr­ian rev­o­lu­tion.

At the same time, Ankara has con­sis­tently taken mea­sures that pro­vide space for ji­hadists to ad­vance its in­ter­ests in the re­gion and re­placed the sec­u­lar Turk­ish so­ci­ety with Ot­toman and Is­lamic her­itage be­cause Er­do­gan sees him­self as the Is­lamic leader.

Af­ter a vi­o­lent coup at­tempt on July 15, 2016, Er­do­gan was given au­thor­i­tar­ian ten­den­cies to bol­ster pres­i­den­tial pow­ers un­til 2029.

Turkey’s track record on hu­man rights is ap­palling.

It has sup­pressed Kurds’ iden­tity, ar­rested many jour­nal­ists and jailed thou­sands of stu­dents for the crime of free speech.

Fur­ther­more, the Turk­ish pres­i­dent has pub­licly flaunted his com­men­da­tion and sup­port for the AlNusra Front.

Ac­cord­ing to ev­i­dence as­sem­bled by Co­lum­bia Univer­sity, Turkey has been “tac­itly fu­elling the Isis war ma­chine”.

Jour­nal­ist Ted Galen Car­pen­ter says: “They (Turkey) al­lowed ji­hadists from around the world to swarm into Syria through its borders eas­ily. There is also ev­i­dence of di­rect as­sis­tance to ji­hadists as Forbes puts it, “pro­vid­ing equip­ment, pass­ports, train­ing, med­i­cal care and per­haps more to Is­lamic rad­i­cals”.

Dur­ing the Iraq war, Nato’s ally Turkey de­nied Amer­ica the use of its base to con­duct strikes against Is­lamic ter­ror­ists in Syria.

Even in the fight over Kobani, their tanks sat qui­etly just across the boarder with­out back­ing the west­ern coali­tion in their cam­paign against Isis.

Re­cently, the Speaker of the Turk­ish Par­lia­ment called the Afrin of­fen­sive against Syr­ian Kurds a “ji­had” – the Is­lamic def­i­ni­tion of “holy war”.

Er­do­gan is un­able to digest this loss and is try­ing to take re­venge on the Kurds.

The Turk­ish state is at­tack­ing Afrin be­cause it is afraid of any sort of sta­tus for the Kurds.

There­fore, the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment has ac­cused the YPG of be­ing the Syr­ian off­shoot of the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK).

But the fact is that Syr­ian Kurds aim for a fed­eral sys­tem that em­braces all eth­nic and re­li­gious groups in north­ern Syria.

Since 2013 Afrin has been a refuge and safe haven for peo­ple who have fled Isis from places like Raqqa, Man­bij, al-Bab and Jarablus.

Syr­ian Kurds have never threat­ened Turkey’s se­cu­rity as they al­leged.

Kurds around the world and here in Wales are protesting against this geno­cide in Afrin for killing chil­dren, women and the el­derly.

Syria’s fu­ture has come down to the whims of for­eign states and not the Syr­ian peo­ple.

The United States and the EU should make it clear to Er­do­gan that YPG is cen­tral to the West’s ef­forts to de­feat Isis and un­der­min­ing this ef­fort should be a red line. Also, they should per­suade Er­do­gan to re­solve Turkey’s Kur­dish con­flict.

En­gag­ing the YPG would es­tab­lish a buf­fer be­tween the war in Syria and Turkey, en­hanc­ing Turkey’s se­cu­rity, and fos­ter­ing a com­mon vi­sion for gov­er­nance and re­gional co­op­er­a­tion when As­sad is de­posed.

Ron­ahi Hasan is an award­win­ning Kur­dish Syr­ian jour­nal­ist who ar­rived in the UK in 2009 as a refugee, grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of South Wales and is now a British ci­ti­zen set­tled in Cardiff

Si­pam Jan

> Kur­dish mourn­ers carry the coffins of peo­ple killed by Turk­ish shelling and airstrikes in the Syr­ian Kur­dish en­clave of Afrin, Syria, on Mon­day. In­tense clashes erupted this week as Turk­ish troops and their al­lies ad­vanced on Afrin, in an of­fen­sive aimed at oust­ing the US-backed Kur­dish mili­tia

> Jour­nal­ist Ron­ahi Hasan

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