This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Calling Erdogan's Bluff in Afrin

"As observers of Erdogan’s war on the Kurds know, the current attack on Afrin is to be put into the context of Turkey’s longstanding racist hostility towards any prospect of Kurdish self-determination, including democratic rights within existing states. By labelling any attempt at self-determination as ‘separatism’ and ‘terrorism’, Turkey tries to legitimize its war crimes in the eyes of the international community."
"Ever since the peace process between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ceased in the summer of 2015, and especially after an attempted coup attempt in July 2016, several massacres on Kurdish civilians have been committed by the state, while tens of thousands of people were arrested, and even more assaulted, sacked, injured or displaced."
New InternationalistIn Afrin, Kurds protest Turkeys invasion as YPG fighters look on., 24 January 2018. In Afrin, northern Syria, Kurds protest Turkey's invasion as YPG (People's Protection Unit) members look on, 24 January 2018. Source: Kurdish Struggle, CC

Robert Fisk of The Independent, Great Britain, writes disparagingly of Afrin's untouched status; that despite the news coming out of the region of Turkey's assault on the YPG and stated determination to wrest Afrin from Kurdish hands, he could see first-hand no indication of any conflict other than in surrounding towns, that all seems normal and calm, commercial establishments open for business and no perturbations to be seen anywhere. There is a discreet presence of Russian soldiers which tends to give the impression of a loose solidarity with the Kurds.

Fisk, an opinionated and fussily critical journalist at the best of times, seems to take a sneering position at anything that belies his impressions. As a nit-picker, he had to point out in his latest entry in his rag that he had to repeatedly correct Kurdish pronunciation of Erdogan's name, impressing on them that the 'r' is pronounced as 'w', as though that salient fact would be of any great moment to a people fearing the loss of their established autonomy in a geographic area in which they can measure Kurdish heritage by millennia.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan feels entitled to invade areas on the border with Syria, considering them to be Turkish in character and historical precedence and thus on the wrong side of the border. Aside from which he has an overweening sense of paranoia at the presence and autonomous territorial control of the YPG whose connection with the Turkish PKK he points out is injurious to Turkey given the Kurdish aspiration of achieving sovereign status on their own historical geography, absorbed by Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Erdogan's fascist hatred for the Kurdish propensity to claim what is historically and morally theirs, restively agitating for the world to finally recognize the injustice done the Kurds when the dominating custodians of the region, colonialist Britain and France were casually marking up borders for posterity, ignoring natural ethnic, tribal and religious minority groups and forcing uneasy pluralism on a population that historically saw no need to acknowledge the other, each living in their geographies, has been brought to a head.

Under Kurdish control, minorities generally were able to live in peace, unlike the kind of persistent persecution suffered by Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, Jews and Druze among others living under Muslim majority domination. During the invasion and caliphate establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, minorities fled for protection from the invaded areas to find haven within wider, autonomously-regulated Kurdish areas.
YPJ Fighter
Kurdish YPG fighter. Source: Kurdish Struggle, CC
Erdogan's purpose in the Afrin area and beyond is to establish a greater presence of Turkmens and Sunni Syrians on the border area between Turkey and Syria to counteract the link between the YPG and the PKK, sundering their alliance and giving 'protection' to Turkey, and just incidentally in the process enabling Turkey to target the fighting Kurds and demoralize their citizenry with the prospect of an invading Turkey. Because Turkey is a member of NATO, Erdogan has become almost exempt from scrutiny in his ambition.

That Turkey remains a member of NATO is one of those realpolitik mysteries. Ankara's realliance with Moscow has shifted his membership even further outside the Western alliance, yet it remains impervious to hard scrutiny. Lip service is paid by Europe and the United States to the plight of the Kurds under Turkish attack. Discreet messages, mild in language beseech Erdogan to refrain from full-out attack. In fact, Fisk did get one thing right; Turkey with its massive military could, if Erdogan willed it so, make quick work of Afrin if it dispatched sufficient numbers and weaponry to confront the YPG with.

Turkey's arrogance in warning the U.S. that it expects the White House to withdraw from ongoing training of the Kurds, to stop arming them and to recall all the weapons it has thus far supplied the YPG with, along with Turkey's intention to extend its invasion to areas like Manbij where American troops are established, calls for a more vigorous response from the Trump administration than merely responding that it has taken note of Turkish demands.
Kurdish YPG fighter
Kurdish YPG fighter, 19 January 2018. Source: Kurdish Struggle, CC

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