As you read this article, the Turkish military is murdering civilians in Syria. KCL Turkish Society is either ignorant of these atrocities – or, they support them.
Some hours ago, KCL Turkish Society issued a statement on Operation Peace Spring – the Turkish invasion of North Eastern Syria. The statement says, in part, that the operation was conducted to secure Turkish borders and “protect our Syrian and Kurdish neighbours…from YPD/YPG, PKK, and Daesh forces.”
Some Needed Context
A quick crash-course on this issue. Turkey has been fighting an internal insurgency conducted by Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) for over three decades.
In 2011, as Syria descended into chaos, the Syrian Kurdish community formed the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Their remit was to defend Kurds in Syria, which they did. It is true that they have some links to the PKK, but these are relatively marginal in material terms.
In 2014, when Daesh exploded into international attention, the United States cast around for any credible partner to help defeat the threat. It found such a partner in the YPG. With US assistance, they formed the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a broad coalition of Kurds, Arabs and others dedicated to the fight against Daesh. With extensive US support, and at the cost of 11,000 lives, they drove Daesh to the point of extinction.
During this time, Turkey – a NATO ally – did little to aid in the counter-Daesh fight. They preferred that others do the hard work for them.
In the process of this fight, the SDF built a functioning democracy, with respect for the rights of women and minorities. International observers were cautiously optimistic. The SDF know that they must do more. Now, none of this is possible.
What is going on now?
Turkish forces, accompanied and preceded by jihadist militia, have entered Syria. Their stated objective – as so wonderfully laid out by Turkish Society – are to secure a 30-mile-deep ‘safe zone’ along the Turkish border.
The reality is that in four days, 130,000 people have been displaced – a number likely to triple. At least 21 civilians have been killed; some local sources report 90+. Artillery has been fired indiscriminately at civilian targets. At least nine Kurds have been summarily executed. A prominent Kurdish female politician was pulled from her car and shot. Some reports suggest she was raped first.
Aside from the humanitarian outrages, there are grave security concerns. Hundreds of Daesh fighters have escaped custody. Thousands are likely to follow. Meanwhile, abandoned by their allies, the SDF has reached an accommodation with the Assad regime for protection, at the cost of their hard-won freedom. As you read this, the Syrian Arab Army is heading north to fight the Turks – potentially triggering an even graver international crisis.
Back to King’s
In light of this, let’s go back to Turkish Society.
They have stated that Peace Spring would secure Turkey’s borders. In fact, the operation has turned a stabilized region into a firestorm.
They have said that Turkish forces will protect civilians from the SDF – the reverse is true.
They have claimed that Turkey will defeat Daesh. Instead, they have rescued it from death.
We are further treated to the farcical argument that Turkey is not a risk to civilian populations due to its hosting of a large refugee population. The Turkish government routinely abuses these refugees. Moreover, Erdogan has repeatedly used their lives as a bargaining chip with the EU and others. To claim their treatment as a humanitarian award displays either profound ignorance or sickening hypocrisy.
Turkish Society’s statement is shameful. Any person who believes in the vaguest notion of human dignity, or even the concept of truth, should join me in condemning it.