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UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:03 pm

Afrin Confrontation Risks Kurdish Autonomy and War With Turkey
By Ty Joplin

    A deal is rumored to have been made between Syria and Kurdish militias

    Syrian troops may help Kurdish forces oust Turkey from Afrin

    If true, the deal re-callibrates both Assad's and the Kurds' visions of Post-war Syria

    The Syrian war is quickly becoming more politically chaotic
Kurdish militias and the Syrian government have reportedly reached an agreement to deploy Syrian regime troops into Afrin to help defend it against the Turkish military.

If true, the deal would represent a massive concession by the Kurdish forces in Syria, one that spells danger for their political goal of autonomy in northern Syria.

Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria confirmed to Reuters that the deal includes a Syrian troop deployment to besieged Afrin to help embattled Kurdish militias push out Turkish fighters.

The deal also reportedly includes enforcing a no-fly zone over Afrin, a move that was temporarily threatened by Assad. The no-fly zone would prevent Turkish drones and jets from conducting intelligence gathering missions and airstrikes, potentially offsetting Turkey’s current military advantage.

The reported deal looks to be born from desperation from the Kurdish forces, and imperils both sides’ political visions for Syria. But at the moment, each side appears to have little choice but to focus on limiting Turkey’s power and military presence in Syria.

The Danger of the Deal for Kurds

In January, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch, invading the Afrin region of Syria, which lies on the Syria-Turkey border. Its stated goal is to clear the region of Kurdish militias, who are closely linked to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in Turkey—a group that has been warring with the Turkish government for decades.

The Kurdish forces in Afrin, mainly the People’s Protection Units (YPG), immediately lost territory under the Turkish blitz, which was long in the making, and sent reinforcements from northeastern Syria through Assad-controlled territory towards Afrin. Assad reportedly allowed the reinforcement to go through government territory because it contributed to a goal shared by both the Kurds and the Syrian government: to slow down Turkish gains in Syria.

But in reaching out to the Syrian government for military help, the Kurds are functionally sacrificing the total autonomy they have gained in Afrin, and in so doing, threaten the viability of future autonomy in Afrin and beyond for the Kurds. Put in simple terms, if the Syrian army goes into Afrin, they are likely to stay there, and give Assad a foothold through which to increase its involvement in Afrin.

In any future negotiation on Kurdish autonomy then, Afrin may be compromised for the Kurds.

Kurdish officials are clear that the military deal is just that: a military deal that has no bearing for the politics between the Kurds and Assad. But as the case is everywhere in the world, and is true especially in Syria, military power dictates how much political space and leverage one group has.

What Assad Has to Lose

For Assad’s part, the potential agreement has one glaring danger: it could open up a new front in Idlib and Aleppo. Right now, there is a significant Turkish military buildup in the Idlib governorate and the rural areas south of Aleppo. A confrontation between Turkey and Assad could happen in Idlib if they battle each other in Afrin.

Assad stands to lose a rare asset that he has a fragile hold on - control.

Turkish forces were allowed to enter as monitor enforcement of the de-escalation agreement, but appear to be using their position in Idlib as a launchpad for further military incursions.

One small but telling event hints at the danger of the Idlib front between Syria and Turkey. Turkey sent a convoy of about 100 military vehicles from northern Idlib to a small town mere kilometers away from Assad-controlled territory south of Aleppo. Startled by the advance, regime forces and loyalists shelled the convoy.

In response, Turkey struck Syrian targets with artillery and escorted their convoy with jets. Assad then positioned missile defense systems in northern Syria as a signal that the Syrian government was willing to engage with Turkish targets if need be.

If the Syrian government send troops into Afrin, they would likely have to battle Turkish forces in Idlib as well, an exponential escalation of Syria that runs the risk of spiraling the Syrian conflict out of control.

In trying to secure Syria’s borders from external actors, Assad could lose much of what he his army has fought for near Aleppo. For their part however, Turkey could become hopelessly entangled in Syria if it opts to open up the front in Idlib.

The Unpredictable Future of the Syrian War

At the time of publication, the Idlib front has not been opened, nor has the Syrian-Kurdish agreement been implemented. But its mere existence shows both the desperation of the Kurds and Assad to sustain their territories while also demonstrating an ability to compromise.

The dynamism of the war in Syria, and the sheer number of divergent interests and warring factions operating in the country show that the war is not winding down, but rather becoming more entangled and politically unnavigable.

Any speculation that the Syrian war is reaching a political end should be dispelled by the grim reality that the country has now become a regional vacuum upon which factions can project power. As long as it remains an open opportunity to grab power and influence, peace will elude the country.

Those who pay the dearest are inevitably the civilians trapped inside Syria, who are dying by the thousands to wait out a war that has no end in sight.

https://www.albawaba.com/news/original- ... y--1090874
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Benny » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:54 pm


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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:53 pm

Benny wrote:CNN also runs a similar story:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/19/midd ... index.html

/B


    To be perfectly honest even I am confused

Nearly 4 years ago Kurds managed to chase the Syrian forces from most of Western Kurdistan - it makes no sense for Kurds to ask the Syrian military to return :shock:

In mid 2014 Western Kurdistan had almost gained independence and was seriously expecting Southern Kurdistan to declare independence, so that together they would form the bases of Greater Kurdistan :((
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Piling » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:26 am

YPG have no choice : being crushed by Turkey or occupied by Syria. Since the beginning it was doomed. ISIS just retarded the process.

If Syrian regime stays weak, Kurds could ask a limited autonomy. If Baath achieves to eliminate any rebellion from other Arabs, Kurds will come back to 2010 situation.

They have no more to expect from Syrian opposition.
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Benny » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:05 pm


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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:37 pm

Piling wrote:YPG have no choice : being crushed by Turkey or occupied by Syria. Since the beginning it was doomed. ISIS just retarded the process.

If Syrian regime stays weak, Kurds could ask a limited autonomy. If Baath achieves to eliminate any rebellion from other Arabs, Kurds will come back to 2010 situation.

They have no more to expect from Syrian opposition.


It is a mess X(

I have no suggestions :-s
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:46 pm

Benny wrote:Syrian forces now in Afrin:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43131600

/B

Syrian pro-government forces have entered the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, provoking an immediate response from Turkish forces besieging the area.

The government was asked for military help by a Kurdish militia that has been trying to repel an offensive by Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels.

Fighters were seen passing through a checkpoint in armoured vehicles.

Turkish troops then shelled the area and Turkey said it had forced the pro-government fighters to retreat.

Turkey had threatened to confront government forces if they intervened, raising the prospect of direct conflict between two of the main players in Syria's civil war.


All I see is more fighting - more innocent people being killed - more Kurds dying :((
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:24 pm

Why are world leaders backing this brutal attack against Kurdish Afrin?
David Graeber

Three years ago the world watched a ragtag band of men and women fighters in the Syrian town of Kobane, most armed only with Kalashnikovs, hold off a vast army of Islamist militants with tanks, artillery and overwhelming logistical superiority. The defenders insisted they were acting in the name of revolutionary feminist democracy. The Islamist fighters vowed to exterminate them for that very reason. When Kobane’s defenders won, it was widely hailed as the closest one can come, in the contemporary world, to a clear confrontation of good against evil.

Today, exactly same thing is happening again. Except this time, world powers are firmly on the side of the aggressors. In a bizarre twist, those aggressors seem to have convinced key world leaders and public opinion-makers that Kobane’s citizens are “terrorists” because they embrace a radical version of ecology, democracy and women’s rights :shock:

The region in question is Afrin, defended by the same YPG and YPJ (People’s Protection and Women’s Protection Units) who defended Kobane, and who afterwards were the only forces in Syria willing to take the battle to the heartland of Islamic State, losing thousands of combatants in the battle for its capital, Raqqa.

An isolated pocket of peace and sanity in the Syrian civil war, famous only for the beauty of its mountains and olive groves, Afrin’s population had almost doubled during the conflict as hundreds of thousands of mostly Arab refugees had come to shelter with its original, overwhelmingly Kurdish population.

At the same time its inhabitants had taken advantage of their peace and stability to develop the democratic principles embraced throughout the majority Kurdish regions of north Syria, known as Rojava. Local decisions were devolved to neighbourhood assemblies in which everyone could participate; other parts of Rojava insisted on strict gender parity, with every office having co-chairs, male and female, in Afrin, two-thirds of public offices are held by women :ymapplause:

Today, this democratic experiment is the object of an entirely unprovoked attack by Islamist militias including ISIS and al-Qaida veterans, and members of Turkish death squads such as the notorious Grey Wolves, backed by the Turkish army’s tanks, F16 fighters, and helicopter gunships. Like ISIS before them, the new force seems determined to violate all standards of behaviour, launching napalm attacks on villagers, attacking dams – even, like ISIS, blowing up irreplaceable archaeological monuments.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey, has announced, “We aim to give Afrin back to its rightful owners”, in a thinly veiled warning to ethnically cleanse the region of its Kurdish inhabitants. And only today it emerged that a convoy heading to Afrin carrying food and medicine was shelled by Turkish forces X(

Remarkably, the YPG and YPJ have so far held off the invaders. But they have done so without so much as the moral support of a single major world power. Even the US, the presence of whose forces prevents Turkey from invading those territories in the east, where the YPG and YPJ are still engaged in combat with ISIS, has refused to lift a finger to defend Afrin. The British foreign secretary Boris Johnson has gone so far as to insist that “Turkey has the right to want to keep its borders secure” – by which logic he would have no objection if France were to seize control of Dover =)) =)) =))

The result is bizarre. Western leaders who regularly excoriate Middle Eastern regimes for their lack of democratic and women’s rights – even, as George W Bush famously did with the Taliban, using it as justification for military invasion – appear to have decided that going too far in the other direction is justifiable grounds for attack.

To understand how this happened, one must go back to the 1990s, when Turkey was engaged in a civil war with the military arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ party, or PKK, then a Marxist-Leninist organisation calling for a separate Kurdish state. Whether the PKK was ever a terrorist organisation, in the sense of bombing marketplaces and the like, is very much a matter of contention, but there is no doubt that the guerrilla war was a bloody business, and terrible things happened on both sides.

WRONG

Kurds did not start their fight for freedom with Ocalan - the fight for freedom started in the days following the separation of the Kurdish homeland and the attacks (including gassing) of the Kurds - thousands of Kurds died fighting for freedom long before anyone had ever heard of Ocalan

About the turn of the millennium, the PKK abandoned the demand for a separate state. It called a unilateral ceasefire, pressing for peace talks to negotiate both regional autonomy for Kurds and a broader democratisation of Turkish society.

Never forget the changes were to comply with the EU demands to further Turkey's application

This transformation affected the Kurdish freedom movement across the Middle East. Those inspired by the movement’s imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan, began calling for a radical decentralisation of power and opposition to ethnic nationalism of all sorts.

The Turkish government responded with an intense lobbying campaign to have the PKK designated a “terrorist organisation” (which it had not been before). By 2001 it had succeeded, and the PKK was placed on the EU, US, and UN “terror list”.

Never has such a decision so wreaked havoc with the prospect of peace. It allowed the Turkish government to arrest thousands of activists, journalists, elected Kurdish officials – even the leadership of the country’s second largest opposition party – all on claims of “terrorist” sympathies, and with barely a word of protest from Europe or America. Turkey now has more journalists in prison than any other country.

The designation has created a situation of Orwellian madness, allowing the Turkish government to pour millions into western PR firms to smear anyone who calls for greater civil rights as “terrorists”. Now, in the final absurdity, it has allowed world governments to sit idly by while Turkey launches an unprovoked assault on one of the few remaining peaceful corners of Syria.

The only actual connection its people have to the PKK is an enthusiasm for the philosophy of its imprisoned leader Öcalan. It cannot be denied – as Turkish propagandists endlessly point out – that portraits of Öcalan, and his books, are common there. But ironically what that philosophy consists of is simply an embrace of direct democracy, ecology, and a radical version of women’s empowerment.

The religious extremists who surround the current Turkish government know perfectly well that Rojava doesn’t threaten them militarily. It threatens them by providing an alternative vision of what life in the region could be like. Above all, they feel it is critical to send the message to women across the Middle East that if they rise up for their rights, let alone rise up in arms, the likely result is that they will be maimed and killed, and none of the major powers will raise an objection. There is a word for such a strategy. It’s called “terrorism” – a calculated effort to cause terror. The question is, why is the rest of the world cooperating?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... rkish-army
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:38 pm

Far left on the front lines:
The Westerners joining the Kurds' fight in Syria (Part 1 of 2)

Fighters from France, Britain, Greece and beyond have joined Kurds in their battle against Turkish troops in Syria’s Afrin. Often identifying with the far left, these volunteers have set off to fight, and even die, for a "Kurdish revolution".

His nom de guerre was Kendal Breizh. Olivier Le Clainche, a 40-year-old Frenchman from Brittany, was killed during bombardments in Syria on February 10 after fighting for months alongside Kurdish forces. The news of his death, which has not been confirmed by French authorities, came in a statement this week from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military arm of the Kurds' Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria. Two other European fighters, Spaniard Samuel Prada Leon and Dutchman Sjoerd Heeger, were reportedly also killed.

Between 100 and 400Westerners have joined the YPG’s ranks in Syria, analysts tell FRANCE 24, including a handful of French nationals as well as Americans, Britons, Greeks, Germans and Italians. Having initially set off to battle the Islamic State Group, the YPG’s battalion of foreign volunteers announced in a statement on January 26 that it had now mobilised to “defend Afrin”. The Kurdish enclave in northern Syria has been under fire from the Turkish army since January 20.

The phenomenon is not recent. Foreigners began joining Kurdish troops as early as 2013, and their ranks have since swelled to between 1,500 and 2,000 fighters, each rarely staying longer than six months. Some have gone home and returned to fight again, others came “just for a photo” before departing quickly. Still others haven’t escaped with their lives.

The catalyst for many came in 2014 with the battle of Kobane, the Syrian Kurdish enclave besieged for months by the IS group. “Given Daesh’s conduct with [civilian] populations, you could say we’re doing humanitarian work,” Breizh told France Info in a January interview from Syria’s Deir Ezzor region, using an Arabic acronym for the IS group. “It is just that our tools aren’t quite the same,” he added.

The foreign volunteers may be a motley crew, but they can nevertheless be broken down into three main groups: ex-military, a majority of whom are English-speaking and generally far-right hardliners; far-left activists, including Communists, Marxists, Libertarians and Antifa (anti-fascist) – principally Greeks, Germans and Italians; and miscellaneous adventurers with backgrounds neither military nor activist but with sundry and surprising profiles that include a Hollywood actor, a British banker and a Canadian fashion model.

The Turkish offensive, dubbed Operation Olive Branch, changed the nature of the fight: Alongside the Kurds, these foreign volunteers are no longer fighting the IS group but the sovereign state of Turkey. The composition of their ranks has become more homogenised and now largely consists of the far-left “revolutionaries” who stayed on.

“The humanists, former soldiers and adrenaline-seeking adventurers became scarcer, giving way to the ideologues,” said Guillaume Corneau-Tremblay, a political scientist working for the Canadian government.

Serhad Tiqqun, a 21-year-old Frenchman in Afrin, is one of them. In the anti-establishment weekly “Lundi Matin”, he estimated that there are "several dozen internationals … and it is not surprising that virtually all of us are [revolutionary] ‘politicos’." He said that, according to his YPG “comrades”, the Afrin front is “the most difficult ever seen in the Rojava” but also "the most political".

The Rojava is the Kurdish name for the vast stretch of territory in northern Syria that is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a military coalition dominated by the YPG and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ). Since 2014, these groups have been trying to set up an independent and self-administered political system in the region. Inspired by Abdullah Ocalan, founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), they reject nationalism and espouse an egalitarian society that respects minority rights and cares about environmental issues.

“Here we make war, sure – but we are, above all, taking part in a revolution. An imperfect, incomplete revolution that is open to criticism, but one that is nevertheless one of the greatest chances our camp has ever had to triumph,” Tiqqun told “Lundi Matin”. The young man describes himself as a “blanquiste”, an ideology inspired by the 19th-century French Socialist thinker Auguste Blanqui, who believed that revolution could only succeed with a small, structured group of revolutionaries.

The Rojava revolution's principles have earned the SDF the support of French far-left movements. France’s anti-globalist and environmentalist zadistes, for example, issued a statement in solidarity with Rojava in the name of revolutionary “internationalism”.

In response, photos of Rojava fighters supporting the zadistes made their way around social media networks. Breizh, for his part, posted photos with his face obscured, brandishing an “Antifascist Brittany” flag.

The Breton had also travelled to Syria as a “revolutionary”. The ex-journalist and proponent of independence for Brittany told his former colleagues at France Bleu Breizh Izel radio last July that he had taken up arms “less to fight Daesh than for the Rojava revolution that the Kurds have organised”.

Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on extremism in Europe and an associate researcher at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, says there is a natural affinity between these groups' ideals.

“There is an evident ideological continuity. In northern Syria, the Kurds have set up an experimental state that is secular, feminist, practicing equal representation, very left-wing [and] based on the principle of self-administration. It is an inspiring model for anarchists and a far-left revolutionary fringe," he said, adding: "They also share a virulent anti-Islamism.”

As a historical reference, Syria's foreign “revolutionaries” point to the Spanish Civil War’s International Brigades, who fought Francoist troops alongside Republicans in 1936.

“The far left does not take borders into account and has internationalism at its heart,” Camus said, noting that in the 1960s and 1970s “there were already far-left elements setting off to fight in the theatres of decolonisation – like others who later joined the ranks of South America’s guerrillas and then the Palestinian movements”.

In fact, the PKK and its affiliates have been welcoming foreign fighters for more than 25 years. “Opening up to foreigners is part of the PKK’s objectives and its way of functioning," said Olivier Grojean, a senior lecturer at the Sorbonne. "The battle of Kobane only accelerated the process."

Beyond the help they provide on the battlefield, Grojean said these foreign fighters also serve as part of an international PR campaign. “Upon their return, these volunteers often do peaceful activism. They mobilise for, and spread awareness of, the Kurdish cause."

But the return home can also be problematic. Several volunteer fighters are currently facing trial on terrorism charges back in Europe. Some analysts have warned that others, newly hardened by battle abroad, might be lured into new militant ideologies.

This article has been translated from the original in French

http://www.france24.com/en/20180223-syr ... ght-turkey
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:45 am

Turkish attack on Afrin: ′The Kurds put their trust in the US and the West =))

The Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria is under attack by Turkey. According to a Kurdish affairs expert, because Kurds can't rely on foreign powers, they have allied with the Assad regime purely out of self-defense.

Deutsche Welle: Mr. Dilbar, what is the current situation regarding the Turkish attack on Afrin in Syria? How far has Turkey advanced?

Fawzi Dilbar: The region has now been under attack for 34 days. Until the beginning of this week, Turkey had achieved comparatively modest success. That is why the Turkish military has intensified its air raids over the last few days. That's the only way it can make any progress on the ground. This has led to many villages being destroyed. This is an attempt to displace the local inhabitants, or force them to evacuate. By Monday of this week, 88 villages in close proximity to the Turkish border had already been cleared. Half of them have been completely destroyed. Since then, the shelling has further intensified, leading to more villages being evacuated.

For a few days now, there have been reports that jihadist militants are fighting for Turkey.

That's true. There are videos showing how former jihadist militants and members of groups classified as terrorist organizations in Europe - such as the "Syrian Conquest Front" (Fatah al-Sham) – spearhead operations by the Turkish armed forces.

Are these groups officially fighting for Turkey?

Turkey initially said that it would only need a few days to take Afrin. But the military then came up against the very determined opposition of the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG), which are also in possession of heavy weapons. This has increased the risk factor for the Turkish military. Ankara definitely wants to avoid a large number of Turkish soldiers being killed. That is why Turkey is now relying on these groups. The Turkish planes prepare the ground by carrying out air raids, the jihadist groups then follow. The Turkish troops then follow them.

There are also reports that there are Kurdish militants fighting for Turkey. What's going on there?

They are deployed for the same reason as the jihadists: Turkey wants to minimize the loss of its own soldiers. For this reason, Turkey has also enlisted people from the Kurdish regions of Turkey – people who were previously recruited to fight against the PKK. They have now been put under pressure and are being forced to fight. The same applies to the Syrian Kurds, who apparently are fighting on the Turkish side. They too have been put under pressure.

Similarly, the inhabitants of the attacked Syrian villages have been urged to join the Turks. This is for propaganda purposes: Turkey wants to make the world believe that the Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) and the affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG), a mainly Kurdish militia, have suppressed their fellow countrymen to such an extent that they have now turned against them. If there are actually any voluntary fighters, then this is a miniscule group of people.

The Kurds in Afrin have now joined forces with the Assad regime. Aren't they getting their hands dirty?

Who doesn't have dirty hands in Syria? Since the outbreak of violence in Syria seven years ago, the Kurds have tried to stay out of this war. Until recently, this has been quite successful. They wanted to prevent their own region from being as destroyed as the rest of the country. It was clear to the Kurds that no matter how different their political views on certain issues may be, they should all stay out of the struggle in Syria. This is because they are well aware that they cannot count on having anyone to back them up.

The fact that they were correct in this assessment is now becoming apparent. A foreign aggressor is encroaching on Syrian territory and no one is rushing to help the Kurds. In fact, people who were unable to leave their villages quickly enough have been murdered. After a few days, in order to avoid further victims, the administration in Afrin was forced to cooperate with Damascus. However, in order not to strain relations with Turkey even further, the Assad regime has allowed only unofficial troops to move into the region. The decision does not necessarily reflect the Kurds' wishes. Rather, it reflects the sheer necessity of opposing the Turkish army, for at least a while. No one knows whether this will succeed in the end, or not.

What do you think could be done to end the fighting in Afrin?

The Kurds put their trust in the US and the West. As part of this trust, they also fought together with the West against the "Islamic State" (IS). The Kurds were willing to cooperate, also to keep the region free of war and violence. Together, both the Kurds and Western forces drove out IS. Clearly, the Kurds played a decisive role in this fight.

But now the Kurds feel they have been abandoned again. They are encircled from three sides and have agreed to continue working with the West. But apparently neither the Americans, nor the other Western states are much interested in this. Turkey is NATO's second strongest army. If the Western states do not intervene now, Afrin will be taken in a very short time. For the Kurds, the question is what will happen to the 500,000 civilians, who are facing not only Turkey, but also jihadist terrorist groups. They have been waiting for a long time to fight and destroy the Kurds.

Fawzi Dilbar is a lawyer and member of the Bonn Integration Council and the Kurdish Advisory Centre YASA.

The interview was conducted by Kersten Knipp.

http://www.dw.com/en/turkish-attack-on- ... a-42727724
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:07 pm

Do Westerners fighting with Syria’s Kurds pose a threat back home? (Part 2)

Hundreds of foreign nationals are fighting in Afrin to defend the Kurdish "revolution" in northern Syria. Considered mercenaries, they could pose a threat upon returning to their home countries.

Since Turkey launched a military offensive in the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northern Syria on January 20, between 100 and 400 Westerners are believed to have joined the ranks of the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Unit (YPG).

Their motivations include helping the Kurds, fighting the Islamic State (IS) group, and in some cases, supporting the leftist, feminist, ecological and anti-capitalist YPG ideology being put into practice in Rojava -- the Kurdish term for the northern Syrian territory controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a military coalition dominated by the YPG and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ).

Whatever their motives, these Western fighters are considered mercenaries and they could be a source of worry when they return to their home countries.

A number of European YPG volunteers who have returned home from the Syrian battlefields are currently facing trials. On February 14, former British soldier James Matthews appeared before a London court, where he was charged with “attending a place or places in Iraq and Syria where instruction or training was provided for purposes connected to the commission or preparation of terrorism".

Before a packed court of cheering Kurdish supporters, Matthews entered a not guilty plea.

Two days later, another Briton, Aidan James, was charged with one count of preparation of acts of terrorism and two of attendance at a place used for terrorist training.

While a number of French nationals are fighting with the YPG, no legal proceedings have been launched against them so far. But some of them say they are on “fiche S", France’s list of individuals considered a national security threat. The list is not publicly disclosed in France.

Shortly before he was killed in Afrin on February 10, Olivier Le Clainche, a Frenchman who used the nom de guerre, "Kendal Breizh", told a French TV station he planned to return home for the summer. In an interview from Deir al-Zor, in eastern Syria, the 40-year-old Frenchman said he was not worried about a possible conviction. "There aren’t too many consequences for people who have already had the opportunity to return [to France] for a very simple reason: it would be a bit hypocritical for France to pursue people who fight with the YPG while a few kilometers from here, French special forces are doing the same thing."

French -- as well as US and British -- special forces are present east of the Euphrates River in Syria, in territory held by the SDF.

While the YPG is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the Kurdish group is not on the US or EU terrorist group list. Ankara considers the YPG an extension of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is proscribed as a terror group by Turkey, the US, EU and the UN. The US and the EU however maintain there’s no evidence of the YPG operating in Turkey and considers the Kurdish group a key ally in the Washington-led international coalition against the IS group.

Developing Kurdish identities and appropriating enemies

But in an article, “The Threat from Western Volunteers in Kurdish Groups", which was published last year in the Small Wars Journal, Guillaume Corneau-Tremblay warned that YPG foreign fighters “undoubtedly have the capacity to deploy a fairly high level of violence”.

A prolonged stay with YPG units in Syria, Corneau-Tremblay noted, could lead to some volunteers developing “a Kurdish identity", that could lead them to perceive Turkey -- and by extension, NATO -- as the enemy.

Corneau-Tremblay also warns of the risk of YPG foreign fighters, who already considered themselves anti-establishment, taking up “violence against traditional symbolic targets (finance, military, politics, etc.)”

But Jean-Yves Camus, a specialist of far-right extremism in Europe at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS), considers the threat anachronistic. "Action Direct [an anarcho-communist group that committed multiple terrorist attacks in France from 1979 to 1987] has been dead in France for years," said Camus. But, he added, “this does not mean that there are no disturbing trends in the ultra-left".

For his part, Olivier Grojean, a Sorbonne University lecturer and Kurdish specialist, noted that the "PKK has never committed an attack on European soil. The Kurds are not at war with the West and there is no reason for foreign fighters to turn against their country of origin.”

However, a Greek newspaper last year published photos of Greek anarchists from the Revolutionary Union for Internationalist Solidarity (RUIS), a group founded in 2015, in northern Syria.

The photograph showed men in combat fatigues and balaclavas brandishing rifles near a wall sprayed with a message in Greek that said, “From Rojava to Athens, the liberated lands of the struggle. You will spill blood to take them,” according to the Daily Hellas website.

A process ‘similar to Islamic radicalisation’

Given these fears, a French source working on the issue believes these foreign fighters should be monitored since the combination of the ultra-left political project of Rojava and the military training they receive could pose a threat.

"Rojava is an experiment of a new mode of society. The international fighters are in a bubble. This experience reinforces the legitimisation of violence and questioning of the social order… It’s a process that’s very similar to Islamic radicalisation, which means, follow-up is necessary,” said the source who did not wish to be named.

The process of joining YPG ranks is not very different from signing up to jihadist networks, she explained. The similarities begin with the motivations. Many Westerners who left for northern Syria were responding to the excesses committed by the jihadists against the Kurds, Yazidis, Christians or other minorities in the region, and by the "abandonment of the international community", she explained. It was the same driving factor for some foreign jihadists, including Westerners, who went to Syria to help their fellow Muslims suffering a brutal crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Like most foreign jihadists, pro-Kurdish volunteers leave clandestinely to join the international YPG brigades. Their flight tickets are sometimes paid for by the international YPG brigades. On the ground, these volunteers are not paid, but they receive intense physical and military, as well as ideological training. The most experienced are then invited to take up arms and those who lose their lives for the cause are deemed "martyrs", a badge of honour in the Kurdish resistance.

It was an honour recently bestowed on Le Clainche, who died on February 10 in Afrin along with two Spanish nationals. "These comrades, who are part of this magnificent resistance that our struggle has embarked on behalf of human dignity in the Middle East, have become symbols of the internationalist revolutionary spirit and struggle for democracy in the Middle East," said a statement released by the YPG.

http://www.france24.com/en/20180223-syr ... ice-part-2
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Benny » Tue Mar 13, 2018 2:54 pm

Found this on BBC:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43384120

City of Afrin is now surrounded, says Turkey.

/Benny

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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Benny » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:19 am


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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:19 pm

Turkish army and allies in ‘total control’ of Syria’s Afrin

Turkey-backed opposition fighters of the Free Syrian Army patrol the northwestern city of Afrin, Syria, during a Turkish government-organised media tour into northern Syria, Saturday, March 24, 2018. Turkey and allied Syrian opposition fighters captured the city of Afrin on Sunday, March 18, nearly two months after the launch of an operation to clear the area of Syrian Kurdish forces.
By Lefteris Pitarakis and Mehmet Guzel | AP March 24 at 2:23 PM

AFRIN, Syria — The Turkish army and Syrian opposition fighters it backs have “total control” of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, according to the country’s official news agency on Saturday, nearly a week after they captured the main town that carries the same name.

Anadolu news agency said the Turkish military was continuing its sweep for mines and explosives to allow Afrin’s resident’s to return, following airstrikes and clashes with Syrian Kurdish forces.

Associated Press journalists on a press tour organized by the Turkish government Saturday passed through the northwestern town of Jinderes en route to central Afrin.

Jinderes, captured by Turkey and allied Syrian opposition fighters, was the scene of heavy street clashes earlier in March. The AP saw a widely destroyed and empty town.

Turkey launched a ground and air offensive on Jan. 20 codenamed Olive Branch to oust the main Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, from Afrin. Turkey considers the YPG a terror group and an extension of Kurdish rebels waging an insurgency within its own borders.

Syrian Kurdish officials and the country’s state media said the Turkish offensive displaced more than 200,000 people from their homes.

In Afrin’s town center, captured Sunday, allied Syrian forces patrolled the streets as Turkish tanks and armored personnel carriers drove past.

Ismail Montaser Billah, a Syrian fighter, said the YPG withdrew from Afrin after resisting the offensive. “They had left mines but thank God we took (the town) and we will step on their heads God willing,” he said. Turkish and Syrian opposition flags were flying in the area.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/eu ... ccc1d6aa70
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:55 pm

After taking Afrin, Turkey looks for new targets in Syria

FOR President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the timing of Turkey’s victory in the Afrin region of northern Syria could not have been better. After a two-month offensive against Kurdish militants, Turkish troops took control of the enclave’s main town on March 17th. The next day Turkey celebrated the anniversary of the battle of Gallipoli, the only big Ottoman victory of the first world war. True to form, Mr Erdogan rolled the two conflicts into one, accusing Western powers of backing the Kurdish forces against Turkey. “In Gallipoli they attacked us with the most powerful army,” he said. “Now that they do not have the courage to do so, they come at us with the world’s basest, bloodiest, specially trained and equipped terrorist organisations.”

Capturing Afrin was easier than expected. By the time Turkish tanks rolled into the main town, the Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, had melted away. Nearly 200,000 residents had already fled, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Britain-based monitoring group says 289 civilians died over the course of Turkey’s offensive, along with more than 1,500 Kurdish fighters and 46 Turkish soldiers. America and Germany have condemned Turkey for adding to Syria’s misery. But Mr Erdogan dismisses their criticism. “We have not caused a single civilian to bleed from his nose,” he says.

Turkish officials say they now intend to bring the war against the Kurdish militants to Syria’s north-east and Iraq, where the YPG’s mother organisation, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has bases. Turkey does not distinguish between the two groups. It has been fighting the PKK, which seeks self-rule in Turkey, for over three decades. But there is a big problem with Turkey’s plans. In the Syrian Kurds’ eastern strongholds, which stretch from Manbij to the Iraqi border (see map), they are flanked by as many as 2,000 American troops. The YPG, backed by America’s air force, has pushed the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) to the brink of defeat. Now Turkey wants America, its NATO ally, to get out of the way so that it can go after the YPG, considering it no less a threat than IS.

Manbij may hold a solution—or become a flashpoint. America long ago promised Turkey that Kurdish forces, who wrested the ethnically mixed town from IS in 2016, would withdraw. They have not. America sees them as crucial to security in the area. A deal might see the YPG pull back to east of the Euphrates river, while Turkey and America work with local leaders to keep the peace.

The other pressing question is what Turkey will do in Afrin. Mr Erdogan has suggested returning it to its “rightful owners”, raising fears that he may use it to settle some of the 3.4m (mostly Arab) Syrian refugees living in Turkey; or to absorb future refugees from Idlib, a rebel-held province that is under attack by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president.

Mr Assad’s forces are close to capturing rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus. Syrian bombs have killed at least 1,400 civilians in the area in the past month. Similar massacres are expected once the regime and its Russian allies focus their attention on Idlib. “The refugee exodus this would produce is something Turkish policymakers would prefer to deal with outside Turkey,” says Ahmet Han of Kadir Has University in Istanbul. Afrin might offer them a chance to do just that.

https://www.economist.com/news/middle-e ... ter-taking
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