Afrin and the Turkish invasion of Syria 25/01/18


I'm not sure how many of you are following the recent developments in Syria. You might be burned out by all of it, which is understandable after 7 years of a situation of seemingly endless misery. Or it's gotten to the stage where it's just background noise, or it's soo September 10th .However if you're still interested in it and want to know why it's not ending any time soon please, take a knee.

Last week Turkey announced that it was invading the Kurdish region in Syria, the Afrin canton to be exact, in the very north-west. Afrin, which is about the size of Galway had enjoyed relative peace for the duration of the war. It's population, whose vast majority are Kurds opened their doors to all ethnic groups who were suffering at the hands of Assad and IS which doubled it's population in recent years to an estimated 500,000. Life in Afrin wasn't always easy. It was cut off from the rest of the Kurdish region making it almost self-sustainable and had been surrounded and intimidated by IS, FSA, Turkish proxies, Al Qaeda and several other terrorist groups.

Now it's old news to everyone that Turkey and it's government don't like the Kurds. To be a Kurd in today's Turkey you must look at it like being an Irish person in Ireland in the early 1700's. Engaging in anything cultural from language to music to dress can spell the end of you. If you voice an opinion against the tyrants at the top, it's the gulag for you, indefinitely. Move forward 300 years to the Turkish election of 2015, where the Kurds, through the HDP party, for the first time won a historic 12% of the vote. Democratically. 

Now they were in Parliament. Not for long though as the result displeased president Erdogan who called for a re-election before imposing curfews on most major cities in the Kurdish region. Some of these cities resisted curfews and were subsequently razed to the ground like Cizre and Nusaybin. Cue the next election, the Kurds vote for Erdogan. In Amed, the largest city and recognised capital of Kurdistan, they voted 90% in favour of the government that destroys them knowing full well what an opposition vote would result in. In this time too, most members of the democratically elected HDP party are arrested, just like the staff from Amnesty International Turkey on what Erdogan called 'Terrorism' charges. This is a word that Erdogan bandies about when something goes against his fascist, patriarchal, racist mind set. The Amnesty staff were lucky here, only serving 5 months. The HPD lads on the other hand will be staying put.

Now back to Afrin and Syria. It's long been known that Turkey is the largest sponsor of The Free Syrian Army (FSA) in their bid to oust Assad from power. It's also known that Turkey has been abetting the Islamic State, supplying them with weapons, manpower, safe passage in and out of Turkey, whatever they need really to obliterate the Kurds. The Kurds, as we've all seen handed IS's arses to them and have wiped them from Syria with the exception of the last pocket in Deir Ez Zor in the east. We all watched it. The media had a serious hard on for a makeshift army with light weapons taking on the mighty Islamic State. We've seen the endless stories of fearless, all female battalions facing fascism and destroying an entity that threatens all of us. The Kurds did a job that the FSA couldn't do, and that Assad and Russia could hardly do. And now the world has turned their backs on them.

The stories of heroic Kurds in the media are falling by the wayside and now major news sources aren't quoting YPG without having 'whom Turkey sees as terrorists' within 2 lines. Reuters even published an article, written by 2 Turks of course, stating that Turkey killed '260 Kurdish, IS fighters in Afrin' in recent days. First of all why is a comma used instead of an and? To the non grammar nazi's eye, which is basically over half of humanity, you might just put those two things together instead of seeing them as two very different things. Also, there has never been any IS fighters in Afrin since the Kurds did an exceptional job of keeping them out. So why, in Reuters of all places, is this absolute tripe being published? Also major news sources are stating that YPG are an extension of PKK, a Kurdish guerilla group in Turkey deemed terrorists by the UK and US but not by Brussels or Geneva. All media outlets forget to mention the latter there Regardless of that in my time in the Kurdish parts of Iraq, Turkey and Syria I've met literally hundreds of people who hate PKK but love YPG. How is this possible if indeed they are the one entity?

Since Afrin is isolated from the rest of the Kurdish region, America and the coalition don't deem Afrin a necessity in the fight against IS. Russia, who had been stationed in Afrin for quite a while have pulled their troops out and abandoned their bases leaving the people of Afrin to the mercy of Turkey and their 'FSA' friends. I used commas there to indicate that these aren't the real FSA.

(FSA, in the beginning of the war were an outfit who were genuine in their pursuit to remove Assad from power, something that was in their and the Kurds interests. Failing to consolidate with the likes of the Kurds and lacking the support of the majority of people in Syria, the FSA bandied up with the Jihadis, a mistake that would cost them their integrity and any chance of winning this war. So the 'FSA' who are now in Afrin aren't the freedom fighters the name would lead you to believe. They are jihadi scum pure and simple. They look like ISIS, sound like ISIS and behave like ISIS. In fact, a lot of them are former ISIS who managed to escape to Turkey during the Manbij and Raqqa operations only to change uniform and be bused back into the frey.)

Now the question I'm still trying to wrap my walnut around is why Afrin? Most people there are Kurdish, they like living under YPG/PYD control, that's their people. This is where they're from. Why are Assad and Russia allowing their enemy invade and take this region? What's the benefit to anybody in this war in opening up a new war front? FSA and Turkey look at this as a liberation. Google 'Afrin protests against Turkey' and you will find pictures of tens of thousands of people, anyone with legs in Afrin lining the streets against this operation. These people were at relative peace where women were equal to men, where religion wasn't top of the chain, where they could express their cultures, ideas and beliefs. And now they're drowning in indiscriminate airstrikes and are staring down the prospect of being ruled by fundamentalists and the Turks. For what? Is this a victory for FSA? And if you look to the future should the Kurds fail to resist, Assad will come for Afrin, just like he is now in Idlib and like he did in Aleppo and we all know how Assad goes about his business. By leaving nothing left.

I'm looking through my Facebook news feed right now. Being an advocate for peace I am in contact with people from all sides of this conflict. Those that support FSA are looking at this as a positive thing. More territory, close to Idlib, happy days. Those that were extremely vocal during the sieges of Gouta and Aleppo, filling my feed with images of Assad's brutality towards innocent civilians are now silent on the deaths and chaos inflicted on children in Afrin. What, it's ok women and children die as long as they're not sunnis from Damascus and Aleppo? Any beligerent who is in support of this action, Assad supporters, opposers, Russians, Americans, Iranians. You are nothing but hypocrites.

A man I'm following on FB, a supposed supporter of peace and a rather prominent one, from day one has been posting images of Aleppo, of children of innocent people pleading with all of us to share their pain. Since Afrin begun he has been licking his lips with the prospect of Afrin and posted photos of a rocket attack that hit a building in Turkey by 'evil' Syrian Kurds. I found it remarkable that he would pick out this incident of everything that's happened in the last week so I posted some photos of attacks on civilians by the Turks and FSA to remind him that his side are indiscriminately bombing civilians. Naturally he deleted that and blocked me, a testament that he doesn't care about those innocent civilians, just his own.

This incursion into Afrin does nothing but open a new front, inflict more misery and adds more years onto this war. This latest atrocity is no more than a bargaining chip for all sides at future bullshit peace talks held by Russia, influenced by Turkey that go nowhere.

We need to be looking to a place where ALL Syrians sit down and talk, Sunnis, Shias, Alawites Kurds, Assyrians, Christians, Turkmens, Yazidis, Alawites and even the bleedin Druze and stop looking at situations like Afrin as potentials or victories or leverage. It's been 7 years! It almost looked like this could have reached some sort of resolution in the next 18 months but no, let's take a crack at Afrin. This is testament that the Sunnis in charge only care about the Sunnis, Alawites in charge for Alawites and so forth. A resolution, for the people is not on the cards anytime soon so if you'll excuse me I'm going to put my finger in my eye and swirl it around for a while.