Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Faceoff : Syria/Turkey : God Willing

"We are taking these steps to ensure our own national security, as well as of our thirteen million Syrian brothers and sisters, who are displaced."
"This is a national struggle. We will crush anyone who opposes our national struggle."
"Our jets took off and started bombing. And now the ground operation is underway. Now we see how the YPG ... are fleeing in Afrin."
"We will chase them. God willing, we will complete this operation very quickly."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"[The campaign was] not against the Kurds. [Ankara would defeat the YPG there and restore democratic institutions and infrastructure]."
"People there are asking Turkey to cleanse the region and save them as well."
Bekir Bozdag, Turkish deputy prime minister

"The Turkish army wants through these military operations to inspire fear among civilians to force them from their lands and lay the ground for occupying the city."
"[Both Ankara and Moscow will be held accountable for the] massacres that will be committed in Afrin."
YPG branch in Afrin statement
AFP/Getty Images
Turkish artillery shells the People's Protection Units (YPG) positions near the Syrian border on Jan. 21, 2018 near Hassa, in the Turkish province of Hatay.   BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

If Erdogan is so convinced his Syrian brothers and sisters need protection, he should have stepped in years ago to protect them from t he Alawite Shiite regime of Bashar al-Assad. His interests lie solely in cleansing the border area between Syria and Turkey of the presence of the very groups that have been mostly involved in wresting control of Syrian territory from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the terrorist group that found assistance from Erdogan in the first place.

The fiction that democracy is alive and well in Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan and that he and his Justice and Development Party are dedicated to freedom and justice belies the evidence that his is a corrupt and violent regime, prepared to wreak havoc on the Kurds living in Turkey and to expand his reach into Syria and beyond to do the same there. His pathological conviction that Kurdish sovereignty aspirations equate with terrorism betrays his own propensity to terrorism inflicted on any he perceives as his opponents.

While Turkish military operations have been dispatched once again in Turkey's southeast targeting the Kurdistan Workers' Party the rebel group whose commitment to restoring Kurdish independence and sovereignty in their own ancient heritage geography withheld from them since colonial days, the Kurdish towns and villages will not be immune to the violence he unleashes on the Kurds. His northern Syria incursion that saw overflights bombing Afrin followed by a ground invasion of the 600,000-population town is meant to destroy the presence of the ten thousand Kurdish fighters there.

In a twisted sense of cruel irony Erdogan has named his assault on Afrin "Operation Olive Branch". Which is as ironic as the name of his party: "Justice and Development"; the utterly nonsensical use of language by regimes such as Erdogan's is downright Orwellian. As is his notion of justice and of terrorism, for there is no justice for Kurds in opposition to Erdogan, and it is Erdogan whose military missions have distinguished themselves as terrorist operations, bombing civilian enclaves and charging them with shielding terrorists.

The YPG has been an ally of the United States, recognized for its military efficiency in cleaning up ISIL enclaves. Washington has recognized the value of the YPG as a fighting force, has helped to train and to arm them. Relations between Ankara and Washington have been anything but solid and amicable, as Erdogan's steady and swift descent into Islamist-tinged madness of dictatorship has furthered his alliance with both Iran and Russia. NATO has sufficient reason to blush at the company it keeps.

So while both Russia and the United States urge restraint on Turkey, neither is prepared to rein it in, leaving Kurds at the mercy of an unrestrained brittle Kurdomaniacal tyrant determined to wreak slaughter on those whose aspirations Erdogan loathes. Syria, itself a proven mass destroyer of lives, now threatens to fire on Turkish warplanes should they attack Afrin, after they already have. The best possible scenario would be to have the Syrian and Turkish regimes attack one another in reflection of the proven track-record of the sectarian Sunni-Shiite divide of mutual hatred.

At that juncture, the world could look on with folded hands and feel no guilt of abandonment.

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