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Turkey 'To Launch Wider Offensive Against Kurds' After Taking Afrin
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening to follow up the capture of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin by launching an across-the-board military offensive against the remaining Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria and the main Yazidi population centre in the Sinjar region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

He claimed that the next target of Turkish troops would be the cities of Manbij, which the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) captured from Isis in 2016, and Kobani, which withstood a famous siege by Isis that ended in 2015. Unlike Afrin, both places are protected by the US Air Force, backed by 2,000 US specialised ground troops.

Mr Erdogan undoubtedly intends in the long term to eliminate the de facto Kurdish state that developed in northern and eastern Syria as the result of the advance of the YPG, backed by US air power, in the war against Isis. But it is unlikely that he will seek a confrontation with the US, which is sending out patrols of armoured vehicles into the front lines around Manbij, a strategically placed city between Aleppo and the Euphrates.

Speaking soon after the Turkish invasion of Afrin on 20 January, Gen Joseph Votel, commander of the US Central Command, said that withdrawing US forces from Manbij was “not something we are looking into”.

The Turkish leader threatened that his country’s troops could cross into Iraq to drive out Kurdish militants from Sinjar, if the Iraqi government did not oust them from there itself. The area is under the strong influence of the YPG, which intervened militarily in 2014 to protect the Yazidi community who were being massacred, raped and enslaved by Isis, which was then at the peak of its power.

The threat of a widening offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces is probably a manoeuvre by Mr Erdogan to divert attention from the situation in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, which Turkish-backed forces captured on Sunday. There is a mass exodus of more than 200,000 people, according to a senior Kurdish official. “The people with cars are sleeping in the cars, the people without are sleeping under the trees with their children,” Hevi Mustafa, a top member of the Kurdish civil authority in the Afrin area, told a news agency.

The UN says that 98,000 recently displaced people from Afrin have registered with it at three centres outside the enclave. Another report said that 120,000 Kurds are not being allowed to enter Syrian government held territory and are unable to return to Afrin. The US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” by the humanitarian situation.

ORDER IT NOW

There may be less than meets the eye in a Turkish promise to leave Afrin once military operations are over. “We are not permanent there [in Afrin] and we are certainly not invaders,” said Bekir Bozdag, a deputy prime minister. “Our goal is to hand the region back to its real owners after clearing it of terrorists.” The reference to “real owners” may refer to a Turkish claim that many Arabs have been driven out of Afrin in the past and will now recover their homes, a form of enforced “re-Arabisation” that would take advantage of the flight of much of the Kurdish population. A Turkish military withdrawal, even if it took place, would not mean much because Turkey and Turkish-controlled territory surrounds Afrin on three sides and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) units, which would presumably stay in Afrin, take their orders from Turkey.

Turkish-led forces are carrying out widespread looting of government offices, shops and homes in Afrin as well as stealing vehicles, such as farm machinery, tractors and trailers according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It says that the looting and arrests are fuelling growing resentment among displaced people. Pictures from the area show tractors being driven away by uniformed militiamen.

The Kurdish YPG, which did not make a final stand in Manbij, says that it will revert to guerrilla warfare, something in which its commanders have great experience. But this may not be easy to do in a place like Afrin, which is isolated from the main Kurdish-held territory east of the Euphrates river. Guerrilla attacks are likely to provoke retaliation against the remaining Kurdish civilian population who might then leave Afrin and further open the door to ethnic cleansing.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Kurds, Syria, Turkey 
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  1. The Kurdish YPG, which did not make a final stand in Manbij

    It’s the city of Afrin, he means.

    —-

    Also, why does ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Kurds or Palestinians trigger liberals so much? The don’t give a toss about it happening to whites in cities like London under the duress of their soft power. Cockneys are being driven out of neighbourhoods they’ve inhabited for more than 200 years. GFYS, Cockburn. You can whine about what the Turks are doing to Antifa Kurds when you stand up for white working class Europeans.

    Ethnic cleansing creates peace by segregating different communities within discreet territories. It should be a fundamental principle of resolving disputes and ethnic tensions. Of course, non-whites have no right to be in Europe full stop, so whats called for there is total removal from the region, rather than ceding land.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @byrresheim
  2. Randal says:

    The threat of a widening offensive against Syrian Kurdish forces is probably a manoeuvre by Mr Erdogan to divert attention from the situation in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, which Turkish-backed forces captured on Sunday.

    Maybe so, in part, but the declarations of intent to take specifically Manbij and Kobani are encouraging, in that they suggest he is committing himself publicly to that direction.

    Presumably, he thinks that when it comes down to it US forces will not directly attack Turkish forces. He might well be correct, and it will be interesting to see if he is.

    The potential problems the US was creating for itself by trying to use the Kurds as a vehicle for the regime change attempt in Syria were widely pointed out at the time. If Turkey does move east, it will merely be a case of chickens coming home to roost, for Washington.

  3. anon • Disclaimer says:
    @Lemurmaniac

    Also, why does ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Kurds or Palestinians trigger liberals so much

    Nothing about liberal or conservatives here. This destructive behavior from the West under the direction of the Zionist is facing a new resistance from Muslim. That’s all to it. One hopes the Sal fist and Wahhabi will come to senses and declare war on their paymasters.

    • Replies: @Uebersetzer
  4. Ma Laoshi says:

    I hope the SAA is not so foolish as to let anti-Syrian YPG fighters return to their American protectorate with their weapons.

  5. If you want to see ethnic cleansing in action, go and check the pictures of various war trodden Syria cities, e.g. Aleppo, Homs, Raqqa. Total blanket bombing ala Dresden. Now go and check the pictures of Afrin after the Turkish operation “Olive Branch”. Few demolished buildings, some of which have recently collapsed with civilians inside due to the numerous IEDs PKK (thinly disguised as SDF or YPG) left behind. Kurds might be a nation worth compassion due to their stateless state. However PKK is possibly the cruelest organization you can have. It is a pity that the nation-making of the Kurds has been hijacked by the cartel that is PKK.

    • Replies: @Uebersetzer
  6. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The Kurds are Jew. Israel should take them in.

  7. @truth hurts

    Nope, the YPG chose not to make a stand (there may have been a tacit understanding despite the tough talk from both sides) so the Turkish state did not feel the need to level the place to the ground like they did in Sur, Nusaybin and elsewhere. The Turkish state claims to have “rendered ineffective” over 3,000 “terrorists” but has shown no pictures of dead or captured YPG members that would justify this huge figure (for their part the YPG claim to have killed a lot more than the 41 Turkish soldiers the Turkish side admits to). No independent media exist to prove or disprove either claim, and a Turkish journalist who fails to repeat claims that thousands of terrorists have been “rendered ineffective” is looking at jail time for not being “patriotic”. On a site where a lot of people moan about denial of rights to free speech (usually before launching into a Holocaust denial rant) it is worth noting that in Turkey a media worker who does not follow the government guidelines does end up in jail, or at least unemployed.

    • Replies: @truth hurts
  8. @anon

    American liberals are not “triggered” (alt right jargon) by the fate of Palestinians as most American liberals are pro-Israel.

  9. @Lemurmaniac

    Methinks the only people the British higher orders hate even more than Germans are the members of the British working class.

    As Harold Macmillan famously said when Thatcher went for the kill: “I have seen them in the trenches” – and much good their loyalty did them, as we now know.

  10. @Uebersetzer

    Yes, PKK did not make a final stand in Afrin city center. Because they knew the civilians would not support and possibly betray them. They resorted back to their main expertise, that is terrorist attacks.
    Turkish side was preparing for land action, and there was no plan to level the city with aerial bombing if things did not go our way. We were going to fight door-to-door, as we did in our land against PKK in Sur, Nusaybin, etc..
    As to Sur and Nusaybin. Did these places get damaged due to aerial attacks? Turkish air force did NOT bomb any of these cities. All the damage is due to the heavy fighting, and the various IEDs and bombs planted by PKK.
    We lost 700 servicemen and women in this inner-city trench war against PKK (mostly due to IEDs), yet we did not aerially bomb any of these cities.
    We were going to do the same in Afrin, and we were ready to loose another 700 in Afrin if necessary. If it was our aim we could have levelled Afrin city from the start of the operation, which would make things much easier for us. As to your freedom of speech discussion in Turkey, we are just another Eastern country.

  11. Afrin is not inside Turkey. Stop the criminal behavior and go home Turks.

    • Replies: @Randal
  12. Randal says:
    @archie leach

    Afrin is not inside Turkey.

    Look, the US established in Kosovo and in Iraq that “might makes right” is still the only applicable rule in international affairs. If you don’t like it, sort the White House out first – it is still ignoring international law by occupying parts of Syria and threating to attack the Syrian government. The US is still (for the moment) the most powerful state in the word, and the fish rots from the head.

  13. PKK brougt the war to Turkey. We will bring the war back to them with vengeance in Afrin, Ayn-el Arab, Rojava, Qamishli, Qandil and elsewhere both in Syria and in Iraq. And we will leave Syria only when the 3.5 million Syrians in Turkey leave Turkey.

  14. Tenet says:

    “The area is under the strong influence of the YPG, which intervened militarily in 2014 to protect the Yazidi community who were being massacred, raped and enslaved by Isis, which was then at the peak of its power.”

    Nice lie by omission. The Kurds DISARMED the Yazidis, and “forgot” to tell them that ISIS was approaching. The Marxist/Islamist Kurds wanted the Yazidis destroyed so they could take their territory, as they then did. “See, we’re just taking Sinjar from ISIS!”

    The Kurds in Iraq forced school children to speak Kurdish instead of Arabic in occupied areas. Thousands of school children protested against this in the streets, which of course U.S. media will never show.

    The Kurds in Syria welcome “antifa” communists to fight with them for a “Marxist utopia” in northern Syria – protected by U.S. air power, paid for by U.S. taxpayers. “The Kurds are our friends! The Kurds are White!” (Never mind that they are far darker than the average Levantine Arab, even.)

    Kurds in Syria raise the PKK flag. The “Kurdistan Workers Party” kidnaps businessmen in Turkey and force their families to pay. They use car bombs to punish extorted businesses. They smuggle drugs to Europe. The PKK is labeled a terrorist organization by Turkey as well as the U.S. – and now the taxpayers are forced to finance their tentacles in Syria and Iraq. All because of the Israel-demanded war against Iran and Syria, because they oppose the Palestinian genocide.

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