The West and Russia Stabbed the Kurdish People in the Back
While Turkey is unfolding its offensive in the area of Afrin, Kurdish representatives, both in Syria and abroad, are increasingly talking about betrayal. The accusations are directed both at the West and the Russian Federation. Moscow is accused of having reached an agreement with Turkish President Recep Erdogan behind Kurdish back, giving Ankara a green light for conducting Operation "Olive Branch".
This is probably not far from truth, as shortly before the start of the campaign, the heads of the General Staff and the intelligence of Turkey went to Moscow. This was not a coincidence. In addition, Russian military police forces deployed in the Kurdish areas of northern Syria were dragged out of their positions a few hours before the areas were hit by Turkish military aviation. Unlike Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Kurds no longer see Russia as their ally. Yes, Moscow tried to play the "Kurdish map" at a moment of exacerbating relations with Ankara, which came after the overthrow of the Russian Su-24. However, this did not lead to the creation of specific alliances. And after the normalization of the relationship between Moscow and Ankara, the necessity of such an alliance has completely vanished.
Despite the peculiarities of Erdogan, his policies and actions, in general the partnership relations with Turkey are much more important for Russia, than those with the Kurds - because of a whole bunch of both geopolitical and economic reasons. It should be added the fact that the Syrian Kurds have refused Moscow's proposal to recognize the jurisdiction of Damascus, which could have prevented the Turkish operation, at least in theory, Kommersant said. According to a number of experts, Russia may be blamed for ignoring Kurdish interests. But this is not betrayal for one simple reason - Moscow has never given them any promises.
The issue with the US-led international coalition is quite different. In the course of the military action against jihadists from the Islamic State, the Kurds were an indispensable ally of the Americans. Some even claim that at certain times Washington even used them as "cannon fodder", like in the operation to win the so-called "caliphate capital" of jihadists the city of Raqqa.
Unlike the Kurds, the losses for coalition forces were minimal. But this did not prevent US President Donald Trump from boasting in front of Americans a triumph against Islamic State. In all fairness Washington's allies were supplied with US weapons and trained by US military instructors for a long time.
But this is a two-edged sword - in the region, the Kurds are perceived as "agents" of Washington. It is enough to remember that Damascus government forces fought fiercely with the Kurdish People's Self-Defense Forces, which are the backbone of the US-led "Syrian Democratic Forces" (UDF) to control the left bank of the Euphrates River. Now the US has "washed its hands" only with calls for peaceful resolution of the conflict between Kurds and Turks. Or in other words, the Kurds were sacrificed to Erdogan. However, the situation could hardly develop in any other way. Turkey is a key nation state in the region, a NATO ally, and it is inconceivable for Washington to enter into conflict with them over the Kurds.
Turkey's offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin opens a new front in the great war in Syria. The purpose of the Turkish invasion is to prevent the consolidation of the autonomous region of the Syrian Kurds. According to the official Turkish position in northern Syria, a "security corridor" should be opened, controlled directly or indirectly by Ankara. But if Turkey really worries only about the dangers the Syrian Kurds, then it could have accept the US proposal to secure the Syrian-Turkish border.
But Turkey wants something more, namely to get a piece of the Syrian cake, not unlike the ones already provided to Russia and Iran. The assumptions and hopes that the Syrian War was gradually coming to an end were perhaps too hasty. It is true that with Russian and Iranian military aid, Assad's regime is about to finally defeat the opposition, and jihadists suffer defeat after a defeat in Syria. But the causes of the first conflict are not removed, the ISIS terrorist ideology is still alive can return at any moment. In order to prevent this, America continues to cooperate with the Syrian Kurds, and for the time being claims that it will not withdraw US special forces from the other disputed Kurdish city of Manbjud, which Turkey also want to have under their control. Another result of the Turkish offensive is Ankara's new rapprochement with Moscow, so Russia wants to prevent the United States from building military bases on the territory of the Syrian Kurds.
The proportion of forces in the war in Syria may change, but the war itself continues. Turkey against the Syrian Kurds - at the moment this is just one of the many fronts. Near Afrin, the Turkish troops have faced American soldiers, and Iranian and American subdivisions have stood against each other in the east of Euphrate in eastern Syria. Immediately beneath the Golan Heights are the Iranian Revolutionary Guards fighters who threaten Israel. The past has already shown that Syria is too close to Europe. Each new military action increases the number of new refugees. The same is true of Afrin, where the warfare makes people leave just like Aleppo. It is these people who do not want Turkey to "liberate" them now.
Until recently, the Kurds looked like the great victors of the Syrian war. In 2013, in the midst of anarchy and violence, they managed to create in the northern part of the country a relatively quiet area of self-government. "Rojava" is like the well-established "West" of Kurdistan. Some saw it as the first step in realizing an old dream of one of the world's most deprived nations - the creation of an independent Kurdish state in the region, however Turkey did not see it that way. From the very beginning, they were aware of this only threat.
With Erdogan's military warfare now underway in the westernmost of the three Syrian-Kurdish regions, the Turkish president continues his uncompromising policy of previous years: peace talks with the Kurds in Turkey have been suspended and pro-Kurdish parties in the country are once again proclaimed as accomplices to the forbidden Kurdistan Workers' Party Party (PKK). Militias and Syrian Kurdish parties are also part of the PKK according to Erdogan. He sees in their face a "terrorist army" and says he will destroy it.
For at least 100 years the Kurds are an exchange coin in international politics. The war in Syria has written the last chapter in the history of cynical attitude towards them, since they were the most effective force in the struggle against the Islamic State and other jihadist groups. Supported and armed by the United States, the Kurdish paramilitary forces have made a decisive contribution to thwarting the Islamic State's attempts to strengthen itself in northern Syria. The battle for the city of Koban in 2014 would hardly have been won without the help of the Kurds. Kurdish volunteers fought against ISIS in Iraq, saving the lives of thousands of Janizas fleeing war. It is so much more shameful that the Syrian Kurds have once again been abandoned to the fate of destiny, "Deutsche Welle said.
Until recently, the United States was even planning to set up and arm a new 30,000-strong border formation in the northern Syrian province of Idlib to prevent the return of ISIS to the country. Now, however, the White House was silent after the Turkish attack. The United States obviously does not want to enter into conflict with its NATO partner, in view of Washington's and Ankara's common desire to remove Bashar Assad from the political scene. And for this purpose, the United States is clearly ready to sacrifice the Kurds. At the same time, there is also only restrained criticism from Europe. The most clear statement so far has been made only by French President Emanuel Macron, who criticized the Turkish operation. The German government prefers not to speak at all, but was forced to temporarily freeze its military support for Erdogan after revealing that Turkey used its German Leopard-2 tanks in its operation.
The silence of the West is shameful. And it's risky. Because it allows a government to act however it likes, and it is one that has an extremely aggressive policy both within and outside the country. Turkish media reported that Turkey has already arrested nearly 300 people in response to critical remarks on its military campaign. The Erdogan government is still pursuing its aggressive foreign policy course, initially directed against Russia, then against Israel and the United States, and over several months against Germany. Ankara has now chose to attack - this time not verbal but military - the Syrian Kurds. The Turkish government is practically unpredictable as a country in the conflict and, at least, insecure as a partner.
As a whole, the Kurds in the region were once again cheated and their hopes for their country have fallen once again. In September 2017, the Kurds voted for independence from Iraq, after which their fate was resolved while Washington watched aside how the Shia militias and the Baghdad army pushed Kurdish forces from the controversial areas, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. This also happened thanks to the scramble between the various Kurdish formations, which helped the Iraqi authorities to reverse these areas. After decades of US promises of independence, the Kurds have so far managed to save at least a small part of the autonomy they had prior to 2003, instead of having a completely independent state to which they were so close. Some analysts are now calling 2018 "The Sunset of the Kurds," as it seems they no longer have a place in the foreign policy of the United States, Russia, and other Great Powers. They cynically suggest that the Caliphate of the "Islamic State" is defeated and the Kurds have already fulfilled their mission. Though at the cost of thousands of its victims and dreams of independence that did not come true.
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