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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 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:27 pm

Two Men Can Stop the War Between Turkey and the Kurds
Amberin Zaman

The conflict between Turkey and the Kurds has escalated since Turkey started a military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Jan. 20. The Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units, which is the United States-led coalition’s top partner in the fight against the Islamic State, controls Afrin. And Turkey is a critical NATO ally.

The Trump administration is floundering. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has ignored President Trump’s appeal to avoid actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces and torpedo the campaign against the Islamic State. Mr. Erdogan has vowed to carry the battle further east to militia-controlled territory stretching all the way to the Iraqi border, where an estimated 2,000 American Special Operations Forces are deployed.

Turkey blames Washington’s support for the People’s Protection Units for the meltdown in American-Turkish ties. Many of the militia’s top cadres are drawn from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., the armed group that has been waging a bloody campaign for self-rule inside Turkey. The State Department lists the P.K.K. as a terrorist organization but does not so designate the People’s Protection Units. Turkey insists that the P.K.K. and the militia are the same.

Turkish officials believe that once the Islamic State is defeated, the People’s Protection Units will melt back into the P.K.K. and train its American weapons on Turkey. American officials retort that it was Turkey’s tolerance for — if not outright collusion with — thousands of jihadist fighters who flowed into Syria through Turkey that forced them to embrace the militia. Both arguments have merit.

The truth is that Turkey’s Kurdish problem was not concocted by Western powers but is a result of decades of brutal suppression of its Kurdish population. Syria, a former Ottoman dominion, has always figured in the fight.

In the early 20th century, Kurdish rebellions erupted across Anatolia and were savagely suppressed. Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who won the Kurds’ support against Allied occupation, embarked on an unremitting campaign of assimilation. The Kurds were dismissed as “mountain Turks.” Thousands fled to Syria, then under French mandate, where Kurdish intellectuals, tribal leaders and sheikhs united around a society called Xoybun, established to liberate Kurds from Turkey’s grip.

In 1984, Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the P.K.K., started his insurgency against Turkey from Damascus with the blessings of Hafez al-Assad. Mr. Assad saw Mr. Ocalan as leverage in Syria’s dispute with Turkey over Euphrates water and the P.K.K. as a distraction for his own restless Kurdish population.

At the height of the P.K.K.’s rebellion in the 1990s, about a third of its fighters were thought to be Syrian Kurds. And even today, it is not unusual for a Syrian Kurdish family to have one son fighting for the People’s Protection Units against the Islamic State and another for the P.K.K. against Turkey.

Ending the P.K.K. conflict in Turkey is inextricably linked to peaceful relations with Syria’s Kurds. Mr. Erdogan just made that harder. Only one man can help extract Turkey from this mess: Abdullah Ocalan.

Despite 19 years in Turkish captivity, Mr. Ocalan remains the uncontested leader of the P.K.K. — and the People’s Protection Units — and is revered by millions of Kurds across the globe. He retains the authority to negotiate peace with Turkey, as he did in 2008 with Mr. Erdogan, then a reform-minded prime minister who became the first Turkish leader to hold secret talks with the P.K.K. With Turkish soft power at its height, Mr. Ocalan, a ruthless egomaniac, giddily imagined a new regional order where Turks and Kurds might prevail.

In hindsight it is clear that Mr. Erdogan’s idea of peace was to impose his own terms: for the P.K.K. to disband; for the Kurdish militia to join Turkish-backed Syrian Arab rebels to fight the Assad regime; and for the biggest pro-Kurdish political bloc, whose core constituents are P.K.K. sympathizers, to back Mr. Erdogan’s now fulfilled goal of expanding his executive powers. The Kurds refused. The peace talks collapsed along with a two-and-a-half-year cease-fire.

Turkey proceeded to jail its democratically elected Kurdish lawmakers, who might have helped sideline P.K.K. hard-liners, and Mr. Ocalan has been held incommunicado ever since. Mr. Erdogan’s hawkishness shores up his nationalist base ahead of critical presidential elections in 2019.

But such brinkmanship is fraught with danger. Violence between Turks and Kurds inside Turkey, miraculously averted thus far, could erupt. A new generation of Kurds who see no common future with Turkey will continue to swell the P.K.K.’s ranks.

There is a strong moral argument for the United States to not abandon the People’s Protection Units. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently stated that American troops would stay on in Syria after the battle against the Islamic State, to counter Iranian influence and to squeeze the Syrian regime until Bashar al-Assad is forced to step down.

It is uncertain whether the United States is prepared to commit the thousands of troops and billions of dollars that such an endeavor would require. Or whether the United States is ready to offer the Syrian Kurds the diplomatic recognition they crave.

The United States is also unlikely to go for a total rupture with Turkey and push it irreversibly into Russia’s arms, especially because Turkey is better placed than the Kurds to counter Iran.

Without a firm answer, Mr. Ocalan’s children are savvy enough to not get dragged into an inconclusive fight with either Iran or the Syrian regime. They view the relationship with the United States as leverage for a better deal from the Assad regime. The fertile and oil-rich territories the Kurds hold thanks to American air power can be bartered for some form of autonomy.

The United States’ presence twinned with Russian backing might help them ram through a deal. Wary of a ripple effect among its own rebellious Kurds, Iran would certainly oppose moves that would grant their Syrian cousins greater rights. But it is worth a try.

However, the notion that the P.K.K. can use American muscle to wrest concessions from Turkey is misguided at best. American pressure will only harden Mr. Erdogan and the Turkish public against the Kurds.

Turkey and the P.K.K. must not wait until they have both paid a punitively high price in war to talk. Despite his authoritarianism, Mr. Erdogan remains the most popular and boldest leader in recent Turkish history. He and Mr. Ocalan can end this war, and they should agree on an immediate cease-fire inside Turkey and Syria.

Turkey should free Kurdish lawmakers and mayors being held on flimsy terror charges and resume stalled peace talks. In exchange, the P.K.K. should free Turkish captives and withdraw its fighters from Turkey to show good faith. But Mr. Erdogan, who doesn’t seem inclined toward compromise, apparently believes as did many before him that the Kurds can be defeated by military force. They can’t.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/opin ... dogan.html
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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: Anthea » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:37 pm

France's Macron warns Turkey over Syrian operation
Reuters Staff

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron warned Turkey that its operation against Kurdish militias in northern Syria should not become an excuse to invade the country and said he wanted Ankara to coordinate its action with its allies.

Turkey last week launched an air and ground offensive in northwest Syria, targeting the Kurdish YPG militia in the Afrin region. That has opened a new front in the seven-year-old civil war and strained ties with Turkey’s NATO allies.

“If it turns out that this operation takes a turn other than to fight a potential terrorist threat to the Turkish border and becomes an invasion operation, (then) this becomes a real problem for us,” Macon said in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper published on Wednesday.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade-long insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim defended the operation saying it was solely aimed at securing his country’s security and protecting Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens from “terrorist organizations.”

“If France is interpreting this issue as such (invasion operation), we need to assess what they have done in Syria accordingly,” Yildirum said at a news conference alongside Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in Ankara.

“This is a crooked idea from the start. The whole world knows that Turkey is not acting with an invasive mind. They should know it.”

The United States and France have armed and trained YPG-led militia in the fight against Islamic State in Syria. :ymapplause:

Macron said he would bring the issue up again with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and that the nature of the operation meant there should be discussions between Europeans, but also more widely among allies.

Reporting by John Irish in Paris and Ezgi Erkoyun in Ankara; Editing by Richard Lough and Peter Graff

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mide ... SKBN1FK12S
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:09 am

Minorities in Syria’s Afrin Fear Persecution as Turkey Escalates Offensive
Nisan Ahmado

As Turkey continues its military offensive and air campaign in Afrin, a city under the control of Syrian Kurds, minorities in the region fear that the conflict could make them a target of hostile militant groups still operating in the region.

“We fear that the factors that contributed to the Sinjar massacre would combine and produce a similar atrocity in Afrin,” Şêkh Ali Reşo, a board member of Central Council of Yazidis in Germany, told VOA.

In 2014, the Islamic State terror group perpetrated genocide against the Yazidis in the Sinjar region of Iraq. Tens of thousands of men, women and children fled to Mount Sinjar, where they were under siege for several days. IS massacred hundreds of them.

The fighting in Afrin has generated fears that religious minorities will again be targeted by extremist groups like ISIS that still operate in pockets of the region.

“These are not just our fears, but also the fears of Druze [a religious minority], Christians and Mandaens [a religious minority]. Religious minorities are the most vulnerable because they are targeted first and they can’t defend themselves,” Reşo said.

Reşo added that the world must understand that Yazidi fears are legitimate because the Turkish offensive created a very complex situation in the region and the distraction of the offensive could make minorities a target.

“We cannot foresee the future and we don’t know what will happen to our brothers and sisters in Afrin,” Reşo said.

According the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based rights group that monitors developments in Syria, IS still has a presence in parts of Aleppo and Idlib provinces. There are also reports that IS still has hideouts in northern Hama.

Members of the Yazidi community in Afrin are concerned about the potential return of ISIS to parts of Afrin.

ISIS was chased out of Manbij, Aleppo, Raqqa and other areas, but they are still around and this operation might bring them back, Pir Shammo, a Yazidi religious leader in Afrin, told VOA.

Shammo added that his village, Basoufane, a Yazidi village in Afrin, was shelled many times in the past few months by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an al-Qaida-affiliated terror group, which last year claimed it had severed ties with al-Qaida and operates in the region independently.

There is no official data as to how many Yazidis live in Afrin, but Yazidi and Kurdish sources say there were an estimated 25,000 Yazidis living in Afrin in 2011. In the aftermath of the Syrian war and the subsequent emergence of terror groups, because of fears of persecution, thousands of them left the region and migrated to Europe for asylum.

​Diverse city

Afrin is very diverse and home to various ethnic and religious groups. Thousands of refugees poured into the city in 2011 from different parts of Syria, mainly from Aleppo and its countryside, as the Syrian crisis was unfolding.

In 2012, Syrian regime forces withdrew from Afrin and the city fell under the control of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main fighting force in the U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Turkey charges that its offensive in Afrin is justified because it targets the YPG, which Turkey accuses of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S, European Union and Turkey.

However, U.S officials maintain that Turkey’s offensive in Afrin distracts the global coalition against IS from doing the more important work of eliminating the Islamic State terror group in the region.

​Civilian casualties

Continued Turkish shelling and airstrikes reportedly killed dozens of civilians in the city since it began this month, sparking criticism and calls for international intervention.

“We are unable to protect ourselves or our families from these attacks. We are also unable to offer a shelter for the innocent people,” a statement issued by the Kurdish Churches in Afrin and Kobane said.

Isa Berekat, a local Kurdish Christian in Afrin and a member of Good Shepherd Church, told VOA that Afrin is full of civilians and they are under attack.

“Christians in Afrin condemn these brutal attacks on the city. Many people were displaced. We call on human rights organizations to help us. Afrin needs aid and we pray to our Lord for protection of all innocent people in Afrin,” Berekat told VOA.

“Kurds, Muslims, Yazidis and others are living in Afrin, we call all human rights organizations to help us,” Berekat said.

https://www.voanews.com/a/afrin-syria-m ... 34119.html
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:16 am

Syria’s Kurds push US to stop Turkish assault on key enclave

Syria’s Kurdish militia is growing frustrated with its patron, the United States, and is pressing it to do more to stop Turkey’s assault on a key stronghold in Syria.

The issue reflects a deeper concern among the Kurds over their alliance with the Americans, which proved vital to defeating the Islamic State group in Syria. The Kurds fear that ultimately they and their dream of self-rule will be the losers in the big powers’ play over influence in Syria. Already the U.S. is in a tough spot, juggling between the interests of the Kurds, its only ally in war-torn Syria, and its relations with Turkey, a key NATO ally.

The Kurdish militia views defending the Kurdish enclave of Afrin as an existential fight to preserve their territory. Afrin has major significance — it’s one of the first Kurdish areas to rise up against President Bashar Assad and back self-rule, a base for senior fighters who pioneered the alliance with the Americans and a key link in their efforts to form a contiguous entity along Turkey’s border. The offensive, which began Jan. 20, has so far killed more than 60 civilians and dozens of fighters on both sides, and displaced thousands.

“How can they stand by and watch?” Aldar Khalil, a senior Kurdish politician said of the U.S.-led coalition against IS. “They should meet their obligations toward this force that participated with them (in the fight against terrorism.) We consider their unclear and indecisive positions as a source of concern.”

Khalil, one of the architects of the Kurds’ self-administration, and three other senior Kurdish officials told The Associated Press that they have conveyed their frustration over what they consider a lack of decisive action to stop the Afrin assault to U.S. and other Western officials. They said U.S. officials have made confusing statements in public. One of the officials who agreed to discuss private meetings on condition of anonymity said some U.S. comments even amounted to tacit support for the assault.

The fight for Afrin puts Washington in a bind with few good options. The Americans have little leverage and no troops in Afrin, which is located in a pocket of Kurdish control at the western edge of Syria’s border with Turkey and is cut off from the rest of Kurdish-held territory by a Turkish-held enclave. The area is also crowded with other players. Russian troops were based there to prevent friction with Turkey until they withdrew ahead of the offensive, and the area — home to more than 300,000 civilians — is surrounded by territory held by Syrian government forces or al-Qaida-linked militants.

The Americans’ priority for the YPG — the main Kurdish militia that forms the backbone of forces allied to the U.S. — is for them to govern the large swath of territory wrested from the Islamic State group in northern and eastern Syria, including the city of Raqqa. Washington wants to prevent IS from resurging and keep Damascus’ ally, Iran, out of the area.

Afrin is not central to those American goals and U.S. officials say it will distract from the war on ISIS.

The U.S-led coalition has distanced itself from the Kurdish forces in Afrin, saying they have not received American training and were not part of the war against the Islamic State group in eastern Syria. But it also implicitly criticized the Turkish assault as unhelpful.

“Increased violence in Afrin disrupts what was a relatively stable area of Syria. Furthermore, it distracts from efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of Daesh and could be exploited by Daesh for resupply and safe haven,” the coalition said in an emailed statement to the AP, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

For its part, Turkey views the YPG as an extension of its own Kurdish insurgent groups and has vowed to “purge” them from its borders.

While the U.S. may distance itself from the fighting in Afrin, it can’t sit by silently if Turkey goes ahead with its threat to expand the fight to Manbij, a Syrian town to the east where American troops are deployed alongside Kurdish forces that took the town from IS in 2016.

One option is a proposal by the Kurds to persuade Assad to deploy his troops as a buffer between the Kurds and Turks in Afrin. Nobohar Mustafa, a Kurdish envoy to Washington, said the Americans appear open to that proposal. However, so far Assad’s government has refused; they want full control of the area.

Another option could be to seek a compromise with Turkey by withdrawing U.S. and Kurdish forces from Manbij, said Elizabeth Teoman, a Turkey specialist with the Institute for the Study of War.

“The Turks may accept that as an intermediate step, but the U.S. will consistently face threats of escalation from Turkey as long as we maintain our partnership with the Syrian Kurdish YPG,” Teoman said.

U.S. officials have reportedly said recently that they have no intention of pulling out of Manbij.

Kurdish officials say they don’t expect the Americans to go to war with Turkey or send troops to fight with them in Afrin.

But “this doesn’t mean the U.S. doesn’t have a role in stopping the war on Afrin,” said Mustafa, the Kurdish envoy to Washington. She said Kurdish officials weren’t surprised the Americans have distanced themselves from the Afrin dispute “but we didn’t expect their stance to be that low.”

She and Khalil have lobbied Washington and Europe for a more aggressive stance against Turkey’s advances. Other than the proposal to allow Syrian border guards to deploy, they have suggested international observers along a narrow buffer zone. Mustafa said the U.S. could argue that the YPG presence in northwestern Syria, where al-Qaida-linked militants have their stronghold, is necessary to fight terrorism. Khalil said he has pressed other NATO members to urge Turkey to stop airstrikes.

Meanwhile, a heated media campaign has been launched to “Save Afrin,” while Kurdish supporters in Europe have staged regular protests and a senior YPG official wrote an op-ed for the New York Times.

In Washington, U.S. officials rejected the notion that the United States hasn’t tried hard enough to rein in Turkey. In addition to publicly urging Turkey to limit its operation and avoid expanding further east, they noted that President Donald Trump spoke about it directly with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The White House said that Trump used that call to urge Turkey to “deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees.”

They say that since Turkey has proceeded, the U.S. has been left with only bad options.

Although the U.S. doesn’t want to see Assad’s government return to the area between Afrin and Turkey, it may be the “least worst situation,” said a U.S. official involved in Syria policy.

The United States has less ability to influence negotiations about how to secure the border than Russia, whose forces have long had a strong presence in the area, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private diplomatic discussions.

The Trump administration has also quietly acknowledged that ultimately, the Kurds may be disappointed if they are expecting loyalty even on matters where U.S. and Kurdish interests diverge. Turkey, after all, is a NATO ally. Asked recently if Washington had a moral obligation to stick with the Kurds, senior Trump administration officials said Trump’s “America first” doctrine dictated that the U.S. must always prioritize its own interests.

From the Kurdish perspective, “the Americans are missing the whole point. If Erdogan is not stopped at Afrin, he will turn eastward and will not stop until he has destroyed the entire edifice” built by the Kurds in eastern Syria, said Nicholas Herak, of the Center for a New American Security.

“The challenge for the YPG is that it has power only so long as it continues to act as the key, local proxy for the U.S. mission in Syria,” Herak said.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/eu ... d88a904f8f
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:33 pm

Syria Kurds outraged over mutilated body of female fighter

A picture taken on February 2, 2018 shows an undated image picture of late 23-year-old Syrian Kurdish fighter Barin Kobani, after Syria's Kurds accused Turkey-backed rebels of mutilating then filming her dead body

Syria's Kurds on Friday accused Turkey-backed rebels fighting them of mutilating then filming the body of one of their female fighters, after a video emerged of her corpse.

Turkey and allied Syrian rebels have since January 20 pressed an offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, whose Kurdish fighters Ankara views as "terrorists".

A Kurdish official identified the young woman as Barin Kobani, who took part in a US-backed campaign to drive the Islamic State jihadist group from the northern town of Kobane.

The Kurds in a statement blamed the "terrorist allies of the enemy Turkish state" for mutilating the body of Kobani, who was a member of the all-female Kurdish Women's Protection Units.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said it received the video from a Syrian rebel fighting with Turkish forces in the Afrin offensive.

The rebel told the Observatory the footage was filmed on Tuesday after rebels found the young woman's corpse in the village of Qurna near the Turkish border in the north of the enclave.

In the footage, a dozen men, some armed, gather around the badly mutilated body of a woman lying on the ground.

The Kurdish community reacted with outrage and social media users shared online a portrait of Kobani smiling next to another shot of her brutalised body.

"Barin did not surrender, she fought to the death," said Amad Kandal, an official with the Women's Protection Units, vowing to avenge her comrade's brutal murder.

"This kind of behaviour will only serve to reinforce our determination to resist until victory," said Kandal.

YPG male and female fighters have taken part in the battle by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to expel IS from large parts of Syria.

SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said the video of the fighter's body was reason to continue fighting back against Turkey and its allies.

"Imagine the savagery of these invaders with the bodies of our daughters. How would they behave if they took control of our neighbourhoods?" he wrote on Facebook.

"All this hatred and barbarity leaves us with a single option: to continue the resistance," he said.

Afrin resident Hussein Cheikho, 65, said he was "deeply pained" when he saw pictures of Kobani's mutilated body but said her death will not be in vain.

"The death of a young man or a young woman will not weaken us. Out strength will be bolstered every day," he said.

In a statement, the Syrian National Council, the main opposition body in exile, condemned the "criminal acts" and called for "the opening of an immediate investigation" to punish those responsible.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/ar ... ghter.html
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:47 pm

Syria’s Kurds push US to stop Turkish assault on key enclave

Syria’s Kurdish militia is growing frustrated with its patron, the United States, and is pressing it to do more to stop Turkey’s assault on a key stronghold in Syria.

The issue reflects a deeper concern among the Kurds over their alliance with the Americans, which proved vital to defeating the Islamic State group in Syria. The Kurds fear that ultimately they and their dream of self-rule will be the losers in the big powers’ play over influence in Syria. Already the U.S. is in a tough spot, juggling between the interests of the Kurds, its only ally in war-torn Syria, and its relations with Turkey, a key NATO ally.

The Kurdish militia views defending the Kurdish enclave of Afrin as an existential fight to preserve their territory. Afrin has major significance — it’s one of the first Kurdish areas to rise up against President Bashar Assad and back self-rule, a base for senior fighters who pioneered the alliance with the Americans and a key link in their efforts to form a contiguous entity along Turkey’s border. The offensive, which began Jan. 20, has so far killed more than 60 civilians and dozens of fighters on both sides, and displaced thousands.

“How can they stand by and watch?” Aldar Khalil, a senior Kurdish politician said of the U.S.-led coalition against IS. “They should meet their obligations toward this force that participated with them (in the fight against terrorism.) We consider their unclear and indecisive positions as a source of concern.”

Khalil, one of the architects of the Kurds’ self-administration, and three other senior Kurdish officials told The Associated Press that they have conveyed their frustration over what they consider a lack of decisive action to stop the Afrin assault to U.S. and other Western officials. They said U.S. officials have made confusing statements in public. One of the officials who agreed to discuss private meetings on condition of anonymity said some U.S. comments even amounted to tacit support for the assault.

The fight for Afrin puts Washington in a bind with few good options. The Americans have little leverage and no troops in Afrin, which is located in a pocket of Kurdish control at the western edge of Syria’s border with Turkey and is cut off from the rest of Kurdish-held territory by a Turkish-held enclave. The area is also crowded with other players. Russian troops were based there to prevent friction with Turkey until they withdrew ahead of the offensive, and the area — home to more than 300,000 civilians — is surrounded by territory held by Syrian government forces or al-Qaida-linked militants.

The Americans’ priority for the YPG — the main Kurdish militia that forms the backbone of forces allied to the U.S. — is for them to govern the large swath of territory wrested from the Islamic State group in northern and eastern Syria, including the city of Raqqa. Washington wants to prevent IS from resurging and keep Damascus’ ally, Iran, out of the area.

Afrin is not central to those American goals and U.S. officials say it will distract from the war on ISIS.

The U.S-led coalition has distanced itself from the Kurdish forces in Afrin, saying they have not received American training and were not part of the war against the Islamic State group in eastern Syria. But it also implicitly criticized the Turkish assault as unhelpful.

“Increased violence in Afrin disrupts what was a relatively stable area of Syria. Furthermore, it distracts from efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of Daesh and could be exploited by Daesh for resupply and safe haven,” the coalition said in an emailed statement to the AP, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

For its part, Turkey views the YPG as an extension of its own Kurdish insurgent groups and has vowed to “purge” them from its borders.

While the U.S. may distance itself from the fighting in Afrin, it can’t sit by silently if Turkey goes ahead with its threat to expand the fight to Manbij, a Syrian town to the east where American troops are deployed alongside Kurdish forces that took the town from ISIS in 2016.

One option is a proposal by the Kurds to persuade Assad to deploy his troops as a buffer between the Kurds and Turks in Afrin. Nobohar Mustafa, a Kurdish envoy to Washington, said the Americans appear open to that proposal. However, so far Assad’s government has refused; they want full control of the area.

Another option could be to seek a compromise with Turkey by withdrawing U.S. and Kurdish forces from Manbij, said Elizabeth Teoman, a Turkey specialist with the Institute for the Study of War.

“The Turks may accept that as an intermediate step, but the U.S. will consistently face threats of escalation from Turkey as long as we maintain our partnership with the Syrian Kurdish YPG,” Teoman said.

U.S. officials have reportedly said recently that they have no intention of pulling out of Manbij.

Kurdish officials say they don’t expect the Americans to go to war with Turkey or send troops to fight with them in Afrin.

But “this doesn’t mean the U.S. doesn’t have a role in stopping the war on Afrin,” said Mustafa, the Kurdish envoy to Washington. She said Kurdish officials weren’t surprised the Americans have distanced themselves from the Afrin dispute “but we didn’t expect their stance to be that low.”

She and Khalil have lobbied Washington and Europe for a more aggressive stance against Turkey’s advances. Other than the proposal to allow Syrian border guards to deploy, they have suggested international observers along a narrow buffer zone. Mustafa said the U.S. could argue that the YPG presence in northwestern Syria, where al-Qaida-linked militants have their stronghold, is necessary to fight terrorism. Khalil said he has pressed other NATO members to urge Turkey to stop airstrikes.

Meanwhile, a heated media campaign has been launched to “Save Afrin,” while Kurdish supporters in Europe have staged regular protests and a senior YPG official wrote an op-ed for the New York Times.

In Washington, U.S. officials rejected the notion that the United States hasn’t tried hard enough to rein in Turkey. In addition to publicly urging Turkey to limit its operation and avoid expanding further east, they noted that President Donald Trump spoke about it directly with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The White House said that Trump used that call to urge Turkey to “deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees.”

They say that since Turkey has proceeded, the U.S. has been left with only bad options.

Although the U.S. doesn’t want to see Assad’s government return to the area between Afrin and Turkey, it may be the “least worst situation,” said a U.S. official involved in Syria policy.

The United States has less ability to influence negotiations about how to secure the border than Russia, whose forces have long had a strong presence in the area, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private diplomatic discussions.

The Trump administration has also quietly acknowledged that ultimately, the Kurds may be disappointed if they are expecting loyalty even on matters where U.S. and Kurdish interests diverge. Turkey, after all, is a NATO ally. Asked recently if Washington had a moral obligation to stick with the Kurds, senior Trump administration officials said Trump’s “America first” doctrine dictated that the U.S. must always prioritize its own interests.

From the Kurdish perspective, “the Americans are missing the whole point. If Erdogan is not stopped at Afrin, he will turn eastward and will not stop until he has destroyed the entire edifice” built by the Kurds in eastern Syria, said Nicholas Heras, of the Center for a New American Security.

“The challenge for the YPG is that it has power only so long as it continues to act as the key, local proxy for the U.S. mission in Syria,” Heras said.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/analysis/01022018
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:00 pm

Erdogan’s Afrin offensive is a risky game

The Turkish Army’s offensive against the territories in northern Syria held by the Kurds — America’s closest partners in the fight against Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) — highlights the true complexity of the Syrian crisis. Turkey and the United States, both founding members of Nato, now face the real risk of an escalation in Afrin that could lead to a direct confrontation between their respective armed forces.

Turkey is succumbing to the simplistic calculus of the Middle East: Territory equals power. For Turkey — so proud of its imperial history, yet anxious over the loss of its former glory — the obvious conclusion is that its Kurdish population must not, under any circumstances, secure control over any of its land. In recent decades, Turkey’s efforts to achieve its neo-Ottoman dream of exercising a decisive influence in its neighbourhood have been repeatedly frustrated.

For Ankara, it has since slid towards authoritarianism — thanks partly to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s effective use of nationalism. Mehmetcik Kut’ul-Amare, a Turkish television series that depicts a glorious Ottoman victory over the British during the First World War, has become a hit among Turkish viewers. And Erdogan’s popularity usually rises at times of higher military tension, to the point that some political commentators in Turkey have suggested the possibility of early elections to consolidate the regime further, much like the failed coup d’etat did in 2016.

All of this has helped to alienate Turkey from the European Union. And, indeed, Erdogan’s regime has now abandoned the pretence of pursuing closer ties with that bloc, instead redoubling its commitment to strengthening its position in the Middle East. Turkey’s priority is to prevent an autonomous enclave of Syrian Kurds from forming on its border — an outcome that could inspire Turkey’s own Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been behind multiple terrorist attacks on Turkish soil, to demand the same.

To be sure, there is always the risk that Turkey’s military adventures in Syria could backfire — say, if there are significant human losses or an adversary deemed to be inferior secures an important victory. For now, Erdogan seems committed to his strategy, which combines offensive and defensive objectives.

All of this has created a dilemma for the US, which is now being forced to choose between its official ally (Turkey) and its partners on the ground (the Kurds). The US military is more faithful to the Kurds, who have courageously risked — and often lost — their lives in the fight against Daesh. Diplomats and politicians, however, are more willing to preserve good relations with Turkey, which remains an important Nato ally, even if it is becoming more distant and difficult.

Ideally, the US could find a way to reassure Turkey, without abandoning the Kurds. But, with the Kurds committed to using their hard-won leverage to carve out for themselves an autonomous and consolidated territory in northern Syria and Iraq, such a strategy would be difficult, if not impossible, to devise.

The situation in Syria today is a fundamentally cynical one. Erdogan is taking whatever steps necessary to reinforce his own authority. The US, meanwhile, is prepared to give up on its faithful partners, the Kurds, supposedly in the name of raison d’etat.

    “The US is now being forced to choose between its official ally (Turkey) and its partners on the ground (the Kurds) in Syria.””Share on facebookTweet this
But the ultimate cynic may also be the de facto winner in this strategic game: Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Tensions within Nato are now higher than ever. If Syria becomes a battleground for two members of the Alliance, the consequences for the West — and the benefits for Russia — would be immense.

The biggest losers, meanwhile, are civilian populations, who have been the main victims of this bloody chess game. And their suffering is only intensifying. Yet, with so much blood having already been spilt, the world has become increasingly desensitised.

A diplomat friend of mine recently confided in me that, in his new position within the intelligence field, his faith in humanity was not exactly being reinforced. The handling of the Kurdish question in Syria can only have strengthened this negative outlook.

— Project Syndicate, 2018

Dominique Moisi is Senior Counselor at the Institut Montaigne in Paris. He is the author of La Géopolitique des Series our le triomphe de la peur.

http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/er ... -1.2167276
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:19 pm

“Erdoğan attacks Afrin with remnants of ISIS and Al-Nusra”

YPG Spokesperson Nuri Mehmud stated that the SDF has developed the Resistance of the Age against attacks by the Turkish army and their gangs and said, “A breathless resistance is developed against the invasion.”

Mehmud also pointed out the propaganda the invading army and their gangs are making regarding the Qestel Cindo Hill: “Our forces retaliate their attacks to the end. Them taking control of a couple of hundred meters does not equal to a large advance. So it doesn’t mean that they have achieved success.”

Nuri Mehmud stated that the fighters are displaying a breathless resistance against attacks in the Resistance of the Age in Afrin and continued: “We must understand the significance of Afrin well. Today there is a historic resistance against the Turkish state in Afrin. Our forces retaliate the Turkish army and their gangs and fight them both. What is important here is that we know what Afrin means. The whole world should know. Afrin is forming a democratic system and offering the whole of the Middle East a democratic solution. That is why them taking control of a few points or advancing a few hundred meters should not be exaggerated.” Mehmud added that the world remains silent in the face of the Turkish state attacks, even when it means trampling their own laws.

“ERDOĞAN IS ATTACKING THE MIDDLE EAST WITH THE TERROR PROJECT”

Mehmud said the following on Erdoğan’s relationship to the gangs: “Erdoğan is implementing ISIS’ project personally. Turkey, under Erdoğan’s command, has been doing this since the beginning of the Syrian crisis. The Ikhwan movement (Muslim Brotherhood) wanted to implement the same project under the guise of religion. They had plans for all the Middle East. But everybody saw what they were hiding underneath the moderate Islam veil. They are fascists, they only believe in one color, and they don’t accept free life or society.”

Mehmud said ISIS is trying to make their presence permanent through settling in various countries: “ISIS has settled in various countries in the Middle East and they tried to keep their presence. And they carried out terrorist attacks in the US and Europe. They wanted to take over the whole of the Middle East. Today Erdoğan is attacking Afrin with the remnants of ISIS and Al-Nusra. The Turkish army is a part of NATO. They want the democratic project that will bring solutions in the political, service, economy and education areas and uphold culture and ideas to fail.”

“ERDOĞAN IS DRAGGING THE WORLD INTO A GREAT CATASTROPHY”

Nuri Mehmud said the following on the international silence: “The world, the UN are still silent about the attacks against Afrin. The Turkish state is using NATO weapons. Now there are Al-Nusra and ISIS gangs within the Turkish army. But we see that the international public doesn’t speak up against these attacks or show any reaction. They have enabled Erdoğan in attacking a peaceful society that fights against terror for the whole world. Will this society be protected? What will the international public do in the face of Afrin? Erdoğan is now dragging the whole world into a great catastrophe.”

“LIKE WE PREVAILED IN SEREKANIYE AND KOBANE WE WILL PREVAIL IN AFRIN”

YPG Spokesperson Nuri Mehmud said their forces will resist and prevail in Afrin like they resisted and prevailed in Serekaniye and Kobane, and concluded with: “We will resist and we will prevail in Afrin as well. Now they are implementing the same attack plan on Afrin. But we say they cannot win. Russia wants to look like a fundamental force in Syria, but Russia should know that the price for their policies in Syria and the Middle East will be something else.”
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:07 pm

The International System is Failing the Kurds Again

These past few days offered your humble columnist a few too many reminders of how the international system, in all its hypocrisy, continues to fail groups like the Kurds. While most Western progressives, comfortable and secure for all their lives, continue to talk derisively about the Kurds’ nationalist ambitions, the lack of even a single Kurdish state in the world continues to curse this nation.

If a single Kurdish state existed, even in Alaska, there would have been an ally for the Kurds in Iraq following their September 25 referendum on independence. Now no one but the Kurds is questioning Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi as he punishes them with embargos, airport closures and unilateral fiats – such as his refusal to pay the Iraqi Kurds their 17 percent share of the Iraqi budget [he claims the Kurdistan region accounts for only 12.6 of Iraq’s population, but lacks any census to prove it].

If a single Kurdish state existed, there would be at least one voice in the United Nations to properly and honestly condemn Turkey’s current invasion of Afrin. There would be at least one voice in other inter-state forums to ask why Kurds, who form less than 10 percent of Iran’s population, are so overrepresented amongst Iran’s political prisoners and within its execution rolls.

As things stand, international voices in support of the Kurds remain too few and far between. Listening to BBC radio on the hour, every hour, one would be hard pressed to know that Turkey is invading Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan, destroying 2,000-year-old archeological sites and killing civilians. Reuters and other media outlets, meanwhile, dutifully repeat Turkish propaganda about “eliminating Kurdish and Islamic State terrorists in Afrin.” It is thanks to the Kurds of the People’s Protection Units (the YPG and the women’s YPJ) that there is no Islamic State or other Jihadi presence in Afrin — apart from Turkey’s Syrian Arab mercenaries, of course.

Leaders in Ankara continually repeat their lie that “Over the last year alone, more than 700 attacks have been launched from the Afrin area under PYD/YPG control against Turkish cities.” No credible sources point to any significant attacks from Afrin into Turkey until the Turks invaded on January 20th, yet the leadership of Western states continues to humour Turkey with statements about “Turkey’s right to defend itself.”

Such a right might apply to cross border operations on the Iraqi border following PKK attacks in Turkey, but the fact remains that the people of Afrin – including their current political leadership – have done Turkey no harm. They had not even so much as threatened Turkey. PYD links to the PKK in this instance giving Turkey no more casus belli than the United States would have to attack Turkey for its links to Hamas and Syrian jihadis. Unfortunately, the people with the most power in the international system to stress this crucial point choose to turn a blind eye and issue diplomatic platitudes.

This week’s video of Turkey’s Syrian jihadi mercenaries ridiculing and groping the body of a mutilated Kurdish female fighter sparked no outrage outside Kurdish communities. If the perpetrators of this atrocity, or previous ones [this columnist has seen similar videos involving Turkish soldiers and corpses of PKK fighters], had been American, European or Israeli, the streets from Rabat to Kuala Lumpur would be teeming with protestors.

Apparently the Kurds, however, are only Muslims when they are asked to contribute to some cause or other; when they displease Turkish, Iraqi, Syrian or Iranian state elites, then they are infidels upon whom one can declare jihad — language that has been coming out of Turkey this week, but was also used by Saddam and others.

The hypocrisy towards the Kurds even extends deep into academia. As an academic who works on the Middle East, I am a member of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). As I prepared a paper proposal for MESA’s annual conference, the on-line system required me to select the paper’s geographic area of relevance. When ‘Kurdistan’ failed to appear as one of the options, I sent the association a simple e-mail: “Dear MESA, When submitting a paper abstract, we have to select options for things like "paper geographic area." You have options of all the states, plus options like ‘Sahara,’ ‘Palestine,’ ‘West Bank,’ ‘Gaza’ and ‘Anatolia.’ You do not have the options of ‘Kurdistan’ or ‘Western Sahara.’ May I ask why?”

This was actually the second time in several years I had sent the directors of MESA this question. This time, however, I shared my thoughts on the issue with my academic friends who also work on Kurdish issues — only to discover that many of them have also asked MESA about this in the past. None of us have ever received a reply. Perhaps the Arabists, Turkologists and Persian studies professors of MESA are too busy with their usual pursuits, such as rejecting most of our proposals for roundtables or panels on Kurdish issues or discussing a possible boycott of Israeli academics.

I have lost count of how many academics involved in Kurdish studies expressed frustration to me regarding such issues. It is particularly galling that the hypocrisy and double standards come from a crowd so full of supposed concern for “imperialism,” “colonialism,” “human rights,” “repression,” “subaltern identities,” and all kinds of ostensibly progressive causes.

How these people can appear willfully blind to Turkish, Persian and Arab imperialism, colonialism and human rights abuses in Kurdistan defies comprehension. They remain so blind to it that they cannot even see fit to recognize a geographic region called “Kurdistan.” In this they are in good company with the diplomats and politicians who ignore or play down Turkey’s current campaign both at home and in Afrin.

David Romano has been a Rudaw columnist since 2010. He holds the Thomas G. Strong Professor of Middle East Politics at Missouri State University and is the author of numerous publications on the Kurds and the Middle East.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/opinion/03022018
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:17 pm

Years Of U.S. Government Lies Could Soon Result In A Kurdish Massacre

The Trump administration is doubling down on a lie the U.S. government has promoted since it first began cooperating with the Syrian Kurds against the Islamic State group in 2014: that the Kurds it is working with in Syria differ from those that are anathema to NATO ally Turkey.

American officials designed that fiction to enable the anti-ISIS strategy adopted under President Barack Obama and continued under President Donald Trump. Now it’s taking its most serious toll yet: Turkey is bombarding Afrin, a Kurdish enclave in northwest Syria, with airstrikes and artillery fire and the U.S. is refusing responsibility. Extending the Obama-era logic, team Trump maintains that Afrin is totally distinct from the Kurdish regions in Syria’s northeast that are home to American bases and thousands of U.S. troops.

Dozens of civilians have died in the campaign’s initial assault on smaller villages around the main city. Over a million more are at risk, as are Turkish civilians facing rockets in response. And Trump’s choice has boosted bitterness toward the U.S. among Washington’s most effective partners in Syria. In the weeks ahead, it could torpedo U.S.-brokered cooperation between Kurds and the country’s majority Arab community, tempting more Arabs to join radical groups like the powerful local al Qaeda affiliate or what’s left of ISIS; escalate an already dire humanitarian crisis; and cede more space in Syria to actors Trump is ostensibly committed to challenging ― Russia, Iran and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. There’s little clear benefit to the U.S. in return.

Foreign Fantasies Versus Local Realities

Squaring U.S. policy in Syria with the country’s increasingly assertive neighbor Turkey is a goal that’s eluded Washington for years. Since the Obama era, the U.S. campaign against ISIS has relied on a Kurdish militia in northern Syria called the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. Turkey views that group as inseparable from an internationally blacklisted Kurdish separatist movement called the PKK that it has fought for years. The Obama administration’s solution was to speak of a difference between the two forces as often as it could.

That position fails to account for the two groups’ mutual history, leftist ideology and recruiting pools, but it’s one the Kurds can live with. Their respective officials say they sympathize for fellow Kurds across the countries they live in (Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran) but have distinct command-and-control structures. And to further assuage Turkey and Syria’s Arabs, the YPG subsumed its fighters under a larger anti-ISIS battalion without an explicit Kurdish flavor ― a two-year-old construct called the Syrian Democratic Forces, which includes thousands of Arabs and Assyrians.

But that fig leaf never quite satisfied Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He used his military and allied Syrian Arab groups to carve out Turkey’s own area of influence in northern Syria in the summer of 2016, noting that the Kurds were expanding beyond previously agreed-on borders, and pushed increasingly dramatic anti-Kurd rhetoric as he sought nationalist support at home for his growing authoritarianism and as the YPG grew visibly stronger thanks to American help.

Isolated from the other main Kurdish regions in the northeast, Afrin was an easy target for Turkish saber-rattling. By the tail end of 2017, Turkish officials began frequently speaking of an operation there to teach the Kurds a lesson. When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month projected a long-term U.S. presence in Syria, implying a long-term relationship with the YPG, Turkey declared that an operation by Turkish forces and Arab militants would come within days. Erdogan sought and received approval from Russia, which controls most airspace in northwestern Syria as part of its operation to defend the Syrian regime, and used the Turkish threat to tell the Kurds they should simply hand Afrin to Assad ― something they could never accept given his brutality and Kurds’ painful memories of his rule, two Kurdish officials told HuffPost.

Faced with the Turkish-Kurdish showdown analysts have warned of for years, Washington decided reality was simply too complex to deal with.

The official U.S. line is that all parties should remain focused on ISIS. That admonition caused the trouble in the first place, of course. The U.S. focus on ISIS meant the YPG was an essential partner, and frustration with Turkey’s long reluctance to crack down on the group dominated planners’ thinking, making it easy to punt on questions like how the two would coexist once Americans changed the power balance in the Kurds’ favor and what Washington owed them in return for their anti-ISIS success.

“We encourage all parties to avoid escalation and to focus on the most important task of defeating ISIS,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway wrote to HuffPost on Monday. “The armed Kurdish groups in Afrin are not defeat-ISIS coalition partners.”

For Kurdish officials who treat Afrin as an integral part of the society they’re building and defending, that distinction is meaningless. And they see Turkey’s desire to quash the region as the canary in the coal mine. Just as the epic battle to defend the town of Kobani from ISIS in 2014 became a seminal moment for Kurdish identity and dignity, the struggle over Afrin is dominating the thinking of the community’s leaders, as well as millions of Kurds outside Syria ― and they’re closely watching the Western response for portents of their future.

“Turkey is not only attacking and targeting Afrin. They want to target all of north Syria, including Arabs and Assyrians,” Sinam Mohamad, an international representative for the government of the YPG-controlled areas, argued at a recent event at the Washington Kurdish Institute.

Even the American-crafted proxy force in Syria is defying the Trump administration line, not going so far as to threaten a major rift but warning that the crisis could force it to define its priorities differently from those of the U.S.

“The Syrian Democratic Forces in their meetings with the U.S. officials and the [anti-ISIS] coalition officials have been very clear that although they will be seeking support in Afrin, they will not be waiting for that to respond and to resist this aggression,” Renas Xan, a local teacher who’s an adviser to the U.S.-backed group’s media team, told HuffPost this week, noting that could mean some forces get redirected toward Afrin and away from recently captured, still vulnerable ISIS strongholds. “There is a general mobilization … that everyone above 18 years old available to support the resistance of any sort should take up arms or help in any way possible to defend their people.”

The reaction shouldn’t come as a surprise to the Americans who have been talking to and working with the Kurds for close to four years. The YPG first consolidated its power in the Kurdish areas ― which they call Rojava ― after Assad effectively ceded control in 2012 to focus on fighting Arab rebels. As the militia gained fighting experience, recruits and eventually American support, the goal of connecting Afrin with Kurdish regions further east was a constant.

“I remember when they liberated the Tal Abyad territory between Kobani and Jazira, they were telling me back then that they were planning to go to Afrin,” said Amy Austin Holmes, a scholar at the Wilson Center think tank and professor at American University in Cairo who has interviewed scores of fighters in the region. (Kobani and Jazira are the two other mainly Kurdish areas in northern Syria; Tal Abyad is a largely Arab area that lies between them that the Kurds captured from ISIS in 2015.)

But the U.S. wanted the Kurds to prioritize taking ISIS territory. So they did, turning their focus to Arab-majority areas farther south. Implicit in that bargain was that the U.S. would ― eventually ― respect the Kurds’ own priorities. It’s hard to know how costly the breaking of that promise will be.

“Afrin is such a hugely symbolic matter,” said Nick Heras, a Middle East Security fellow at the Center for a New American Security think tank. “The stovepiping of Afrin from the main counter-ISIS campaign in eastern Syria by the U.S. is a risky line of action.”

Taking Credit ― And Responsibility

The Trump administration seems to know what it wants ― an end to the fighting ― but not how to get it.

Its most serious move so far was an apparently harsh call between Erdogan and Trump on Jan. 24. The readout said Trump repeatedly praised the U.S.-Turkey partnership but warned that Erdogan was proceeding down a path that could result in ”conflict between Turkish and American forces.”

U.S. officials have also said they will defend another strategic area under Kurd-dominated rule that Erdogan has threatened, the Manbij region east of Afrin.

But none of that has halted the Turkish bombing and slow advance.

Critics are already eager to assign blame.

“My general sense on Afrin is that it shows the dysfunction of Trump’s national security process,” Colin Kahl, one of the top Obama-era officials managing the relationship with Turkey, wrote in an email this week to HuffPost.

He pointed out that the administration set the stage for the clash by Trump first telling Erdogan, in November, that the U.S. would cut off heavy weapons to the YPG, and officials then talking about an extended U.S. presence alongside the YPG-dominated forces less than two months later.

But the reality is that both administrations made the pattern of choices that’s resulted in this breaking point ― and that it originated under Obama, whose aides made little progress on preventing Erdogan from being a spoiler other than complaining about him. Kahl described the Obama administration’s view in an extensive piece last year in which he said Erdogan created the risk of Turkish-Kurd violence by backing Arab militants, including extremists, more interested in fighting Assad than ISIS, therefore forcing Washington to rely on and strengthen the YPG.

Now, officials say the response is the responsibility of the State Department ― a bad sign, given that the agency just lost its No. 3 official, is facing unprecedented morale and staffing challenges, and counts as its top diplomat on such issues the special counter-ISIS envoy, Obama holdover Brett McGurk, who is deeply distrusted by both the Turks and Kurds. A State Department official contacted by HuffPost did not address multiple specific questions about the agency’s response, simply saying it discourages the fighting and respects Turkish concerns.

And the absence of a clear strategy makes the Washington conversation ripe for distortion. Turkey is already running “a slick disinformation campaign” on Capitol Hill to prevent the Kurds’ concerns even getting a fair hearing, said Sarah Stern of the Endowment for Middle East Truth advocacy group, which is helping set up congressional meetings for the Kurdish region’s representatives.

What U.S. officials are sure of is how much is at stake. ”Increased violence in Afrin distracts from efforts to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS,” Rankine-Galloway of the Pentagon told HuffPost. “It also has significant potential to increase civilian displacement, refugee flows and casualties.”

Mohamad, the Kurdish official who’s still in Washington, listed other worries: more power for radical Turkey-backed groups and broader distrust that could cause conflict between Kurds and Arabs all across the areas the U.S. has delivered from ISIS.

For her, the issue is personal ― her husband and children are still in Afrin.

But ever the diplomat, she pushes loftier arguments.

“The U.S.,” Mohamad said, “has a moral obligation.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/y ... e33eb32b3a
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:49 pm

Turkey suffers deadliest day in Afrin offensive

The Turkish military has suffered the deadliest day in its current offensive against Kurdish militias inside Syria, with seven soldiers killed.

Five of the troops died when their tank was attacked near Afrin.

The "Olive Branch" operation was launched on 20 January to drive the Kurdish YPG militia out of Afrin region.

Thousands of Kurds protested outside the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Saturday against the offensive.

Turkey views the YPG (People's Protection Units) as a terrorist group and an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in south-eastern Turkey for three decades.

In addition to those killed when the US-backed YPG attacked the tank, two other soldiers were killed earlier - one in the same area and one in another part of northern Syria. One soldier was also killed on the Turkish side of the border.

Turkey has now lost 14 soldiers in fierce clashes during the offensive.

Turkey says it has killed some 900 Kurdish fighters, but this cannot be independently verified.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkish troops were taking high ground and would now head towards the town of Afrin itself, saying: "There is not much to go."

In Strasbourg, Kurdish protesters carried banners reading "Erdogan assassin" and "defend Afrin", and shouted slogans such as "silence kills" outside the Council of Europe offices.

One protester, Suleyman Akguc, told Agence France-Presse: "We want to sound the alarm because the Kurds in Afrin have fought against the Islamic State and are being massacred today. The silence of the European leaders is deadly,"

Thousands of people have been displaced by the Turkish-led offensive that also involves 10,000 Syrian rebels.

Separately, Human Rights Watch on Saturday accused Turkish border guards of firing on would-be asylum seekers trying to enter from Syria.

A government official denied the accusation, saying Turkey had an "open-door policy".

Turkey has taken more Syrian refugees than any other nation.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42934041

Turkey has taken more Syrian refugees than any other nation.
map


Should read:

    Turkey and it's ISIS partners have MADE more Syrian refugees than any other nation
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Benny » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:10 am

CNN runs a similar story about the fighting yesterday:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/04/midd ... index.html

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

PostAuthor: Benny » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:16 am

Found this in a Turkish media, but this has also been reported in the big media in Scandinavia. A group of members of the Turkish medical association have been jailed for protesting against the Afrin operation :

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/11-mem ... rks-126483

/B

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

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:59 am

Benny wrote:Found this in a Turkish media, but this has also been reported in the big media in Scandinavia. A group of members of the Turkish medical association have been jailed for protesting against the Afrin operation :

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/11-mem ... rks-126483

/B


Turkey has arrested THOUSANDS of people that they must have a thriving industry in prison building

They always arrest intelligent, well informed, well respected people or high level government officials - judges etc - and most of turkey's high ranking generals, in fact anyone with a brain

Now all that Turkey is left with is the moronic, uninformed, general public who will follow Erdogan like lambs to the slaughter - only the average Turk is so barbaric they do the slaughtering X(
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Re: UPDATES:Turkey's invasion of Afrin in Western Kurdistan

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:07 am

Benny wrote:CNN runs a similar story about the fighting yesterday:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/04/midd ... index.html

/B


Your media is the same as UK media - none of them seem the slightest bit interested in the FACT that Turkey has actually invaded Syria and few of them bother to mention the FACT that it was mostly the Kurdish ground forces that died fighting ISIS

Another FACT that is ALWAYS overlooked, is that when Kurds were actually fighting ISIS face to face, they were NOT killing civilians, unlike the coalition bombers who killed THOUSANDS of innocent civilians during the fight against ISIS X(
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