Turkey has recently been threatening to invade northern Syria. And it has now reached a compromise with its NATO allies in the US to set up a controversial “safe zone” there instead. So far, there seem to be few specifics for this plan, but one author and journalist familiar with the region summed up the situation perfectly:
When a repressive, murderous fascist who's locked up 1000s and eliminated all press freedom, says he can't "feel safe" as long as a fully democratic, women-led, multi-cultural society exists on his border, isn't it obvious which side the U.S. should be on?https://t.co/eo9Gx6knzL
— Debbie Bookchin (@debbiebookchin) August 6, 2019
A fascist occupation that no one in Syria wants
The “fascist” that Bookchin was talking about is Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – who’s turned his country into the “world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists”. He and his regime have been found guilty by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal of war crimes against the Kurdish people both at home and abroad. Some of these crimes took place in Kurdish-majority areas of northern Syria after Turkish-led forces invaded and occupied the region of Afrin in 2018.
The Afrin invasion reportedly led to extensive looting, “widespread human rights violations”, and war crimes. It also allegedly relied on the support of fascists and extremist groups similar to al-Qaeda. As one northern Syrian media outlet has argued, this attack amounted to “ethnic cleansing“:
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Kurds today constitute just 20% of Afrin’s population — whereas they once made up over 90% of the population.
— Syrian Democratic Times (@SyrianDemTimes) August 2, 2019
The multi-ethnic but largely Kurdish areas of northern Syria, which locals also know as Rojava, are home to an ongoing progressive revolution. The region built a democratic system in the middle of Syria’s brutal conflict. And it has a secular, feminist ideology which opposes all religious and ethnic discrimination. It’s also actively encouraging the growth of an inspirational co-operative economy. Rojava’s army, meanwhile, has fatally weakened the extremist gangs of Daesh (Isis/Isil) – with limited military support from the West.
Now, Turkey aims to take control of key chunks of Rojava. These would probably include major Kurdish cities close to the Turkish border like Kobanî, Qamişlo, Serekaniye and Derik. And as author and academic Amy Austin Holmes has pointed out:
No one I’ve met here in NE #Syria wants that.
This is about Erdoğan’s power. It’s not about Syria.
As numerous commentators have stressed, details of the US-Turkish ‘safe zone’ – like who will control it – remain unclear. But one thing is certain. If Erdoğan gets his way, the inclusive, women-led revolution of Rojava will have a serious struggle for survival on its hands.
Featured image via Wikimedia – Shealah Craighead
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