Turkish forces are pounding cities and towns in northern Syria/Rojava, including the region’s biggest city, Qamishli, as well as Kobane, still in ruins after the war to oust ISIS.
Air raids and heavy artillery strikes have forced thousands of civilians to flee into arid open country where there is neither shelter nor food and water. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has the cynicism to call this war of aggression Operation Peace Spring.
The long-prepared invasion came after Donald Trump signaled a dramatic shift in US policy in northern Syria, betraying his erstwhile allies the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are the leading force. The 60,000 SDF/YPG fighters had provided the Americans with the ‘boots on the ground’ that defeated the ISIS ‘caliphate’.
In the desperate war of survival against the genocidal Islamic State, Kurdish fighters suffered 10,000 casualties. In return the US had promised the SDF-YPG that they would not allow the Turks to cross the border or occupy Syrian territory.
However those who know how the Americans have operated since they invaded Iraq in 2003, not to mention the perfidious history of western imperialism regarding the Kurds’ national aspirations, will not be surprised that they cynically cast aside their allies the minute they were of no further use.
After a late-night phone call between the US and Turkish presidents, the White House issued a cryptic statement announcing the withdrawal. With breath-taking hypocrisy Trump then tweeted he was “getting out of these ridiculous endless wars” and that “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out.”
Republicans in Washington and the US security establishment have expressed dismay at Trump’s precipitate capitulation to the Turkish president. The reason is not sympathy for their abandoned allies, let alone the civilians being bombed out of their makeshift homes, but the harm it does to the prestige of US imperialism with its allies around the world.
Turkey’s objective in this war is to create a ‘safe zone’ some 300 miles long and 18 miles wide, into which it plans to drive two million of its 3.6 million Syrian refugees. This would produce something like the Israelis have created in Gaza and even less safe since daily attacks on the Kurdish resistance from the air will certainly continue.
The only real concern for the US and the EU is the thousands of Islamic State prisoners in SDF-run detention camps, which contain some 20,000 foreign nationals that their home countries, especially in Europe and North America, are refusing to take responsibility for. What if they break out?
The other imperialist power intervening in Syria, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, has indicated its toleration of Turkey’s actions. Doubtless this is part of his long-term plan to detach Turkey from Nato. Putin will not be unduly moved by the denunciations of the invasion as a violation of Syrian sovereignty by his ally in Damascus, the butcher of the Syrian revolution Bashar al-Assad.
If the northern borderlands of Syria are occupied, both Assad and Erdoğan will be emboldened to move against what is left of self-governing Kurdish Rojava too. This would not only represent the brutal endgame of the entire Syrian Revolution and civil war but deal a deadly blow to the struggle for Kurdish national liberation in Turkey and Syria.
This outcome shows the folly of relying on or becoming proxies for either of the rival imperialist blocs. Likewise, the ambitious regional powers, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have also used, and cruelly abused for their own nefarious objectives, forces that were seeking to liberate their peoples.
Syrian and Syrian Kurdish forces deserve the support of socialists and anti-imperialists worldwide in their resistance to the butcher Erdoğan as well as the war criminal in the White House. We stand for their victory and their right to acquire the means for this victory.
We need to demonstrate in solidarity with Rojava, and put pressure on our governments to condemn the Turkish regime, to withdraw from the Nato alliance and enforce an arms blockade on Turkey. Our trade unions should impose workers’ boycotts of projects and supplies destined for the Turkish government and find the means to raise supplies and funds for the resistance.
The borders of the EU must be opened to Syrian refugees, to deny Erdoğan the opportunity to drive millions of innocent refugees from the Syrian revolution across the border to face starvation, repression, and death at the hands of the Assad regime.
Finally, the hypocritical condemnations of the invasion by European states should be denounced for as long as they persecute as ‘terrorists’ Kurdish organisations in Europe like the PKK. We demand the unconditional and immediate lifting of all bans on Kurdish and Turkish revolutionary organisations within the EU.