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.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Turkish War Crimes in Afrin, Syria

"All care is being taken. Right now the first civilians are being taken out of Afrin in vehicles through a special corridor."
"Operation Olive Branch [offers the opportunity to move three million Syrian refugees in Turkey into Afrin as] rightfully Arab land." 
"We aim to give Afrin back to its rightful owners."
"Today, as the operation entered its 54th day, almost 3,500 terrorists have been neutralized and about 1,300 square kilometers of land cleared of terrorists."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
"The Kurdish YPG forces were celebrated for defeating ISIL in Raqqa less than a year ago, and now, as Turkey invades Afrin, the world is silent."
"There is the complicity of Western governments who have allowed their NATO ally Turkey to carry out an unprovoked, illegal and illegitimate invasion using U.K. jets, German tanks and Italian helicopters."
Rosa Gilbert, co-secretary, Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign, U.K.

"Where is the international community? Why don't they cry tears for all Syrian civilians, not only some?"
"They are too scared to criticize their Turkish ally."
Ahmed Murad, Afrin resident

"[Turkish forces have been carrying out] demographic change [in Kurdish territory captured in Afrin]."
Redur Xelil, head, foreign relations, Syrian Democratic Forces
AFP   As Turkey draws near Syria's Afrin Syrian civilians flee - March 13, 2018
The Syrian city of Afrin has had its water and electricity cut off by invading Turkish troops, tasked by Turkey's president to cleanse the town of Afrin, 90 villages and another town under YPG control completely encircled by the Turkish military -- of their Kurdish residents. Since these places are home to 90% of the entire population who are Kurds the result will be almost three-quarters of a million Kurds will be forcefully displaced, a war crime if ever there was one. This, caused by a NATO member, a situation that should cause all other members of NATO to hang their heads in shame.

Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that the only road leading out of the area remains in range of Turkish fire, and the Turkish military has no intention of hold back on their firing. The road is effectively off limits for the hundreds of thousands of people who would attempt to evacuate the area and leave their homes. An estimated 700,000 people live in the area being encircled and closed off from escape. An escape that Erdogan claims to be possible through the corridor he has opened even while his forces continue to bomb the last remaining road out of the area.

In the town of Afrin itself, over 350,000 people are trapped. Although the town center of Afrin had a pre-war population of 50,000, the effect of the seven-year-long Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011 led to the growth of the population, seeking haven wherever they could find it. The Kurdish People's
Protection Units (YPG) controls Afrin, bordered to the north and west by Turkey, on the south by government Syrian territory. Last month the Syrian regime deployed forces to aid Afrin's southern outskirts in response to the Kurdish plea for help. Turkish positions were shelled by Syrian troops.

Syrian Kurds deliberately avoided direct confrontation with the Syrian regime while both were engaged in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and rebel groups. A situation which seemed reasonable at the time, despite the Kurdish desire for complete autonomy from Damascus. Now, although Turkey has aligned itself with Russia and Iran with respect to upholding the Syrian regime, Turkey and Syria continue to confront one another albeit through their proxies.

In its bid to control the entire of Afrin and oust the majority Kurdish population, Turkey has seen some of the rural areas fall. In its strike toward densely populated Afrin city the potential for massive civilian casualties loom large. A matter of as little concern to Erdogan, considering the Kurds' presence a solvable inconvenience, as Bashar al-Assad's unconcern over the plight of his own Sunni Syrian population whom he has targeted as 'terrorists' with barrel bombs and chemical attacks over the years claiming over a half-million lives in the process.

The purpose of the cynically-named "Operation Olive Branch" was aimed at clearing out YPG militants from along Turkey's southern frontier. While thousands of civilians have left Afrin to escape the violence, tens of thousands more have been left trapped with few resources available to them. The water supply cut off, bread scarcely to be found anywhere. A humanitarian crisis is building and becoming ever more urgent since Turkish forces seized control of the local dam.

The YPG has been a loyal and useful fighting group servicing the U.S. military which has relied on them in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. And as horrendously vicious in their penchant for atrocities ISIL fighters have been, their victim count was nowhere near approaching that of the Syrian regime, the Russian air bombardment, Hezbollah and Shiite militias and now Turkey's military hounding and violating the human rights of the Kurdish population.

Erdogan sees himself as the arbiter of land dispersal, planning to settle some of the millions of Sunni Syrians displaced by the Syrian regime on the border in Afrin, to match the displacement and soon-to-be refugee status of hundreds of thousands of Kurds whom his military has been pounding with artillery. He has declared the land he is cleansing of any Kurdish presence as "rightfully Arab land", a warrior of Islam set on violence and bloodshed of his own making.

Of course there is the glaring issue of human rights and heritage being denied Kurds, who want nothing more than what other national groups attain by right of residence and culture and heritage, the recognition that parts of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria immorally and illegally occupy Kurdish land. They all, and Turkey the most aggressively of all, denies Kurds their heritage, and their rightful occupancy of their legacy geography. Land that is "rightfully Kurdish" remains ignored by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Western nations sharing place with Turkey in NATO membership should be cringing at their cowardice in failing to confront Erdogan.

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