UK professor slams Western silence over Turkish links to extremism

Ed Sykes

Turkish troops have now invaded northern Syria, attacking the communities that led the way in defeating Daesh (Isis/Isil). And a UK professor has a theory about why Western elites just “shrug their shoulders” over Turkish links to jihadi extremism.

Why is there so little Western outrage over Turkish extremism?

NATO member Turkey has long been attacking Kurdish-majority areas of northern Syria (aka Rojava). In 2018, for example, Turkish-led forces invaded and occupied the region of Afrin. These allegedly committed “widespread human rights violations” and war crimes, including fascists and extremist groups similar to al-Qaeda in their ranks.

Referring to the Turkish government’s historic links to jihadi extremists, London School of Economics professor David Graeber tweeted:

Rojava is a multi-ethnic but mostly Kurdish part of Syria. Since early on in Syria’s war, the region has led a green democratic revolution. Its system is feminist, socialist, and opposes all religious discrimination. And it has played a key role in defeating Daesh in Syria, gaining limited support from the West in the process.

With this in mind, Graeber suggested that the West’s ‘shrugging of shoulders’ regarding Turkish/jihadi attacks on Rojava was a result of “racism”:

Turkish terror

Turkey has a large Kurdish population, and is currently at war with Kurdish communities both at home and abroad because of their demands for self-determination. According to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, it has committed numerous war crimes in the process. Yet Turkey’s Western allies have long turned a blind eye.

Researchers in Rojava, meanwhile, recently documented “over 40 former ISIS members now working in Afrin as part of Turkish-backed forces”. Yet Turkey ridiculously considers the groups that defeated Daesh in Syria to be ‘terrorist’ organisations.

As Graeber wrote earlier in 2019:

It is because Turkey is Nato that the western press feels obliged to play along with the charade that it is an enemy of Isis, despite endless evidence of active Turkish collaboration with Isis, and the fact, known to everyone in the region, that Turkish “offensives” against Isis in Syria have largely consisted of bribing Isis commanders to switch sides.

And in the face of what could be “one of the worst genocidal massacres of the 21st century”, he said, “we need an urgent response”.

This is an absolute outrage. And we have a duty to speak out.

Some UK MPs are calling on the Conservative-led government to take a firm stand against Turkey’s invasion of Rojava; but in recent years, despite allegations of war crimes and ethnic cleansing, the UK has continued to sell the brutal Turkish regime weapons. So we shouldn’t expect a sudden change of heart.

Instead, we need to raise our voices and act. Because far-right forces are trying to destroy the brightest light of left-wing resistance in the Middle East. And that should be utterly unacceptable to progressives everywhere.

Featured image via Steve Rhodes

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