Turkey must halt its war on Kurds


Turkey must halt its military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria immediately. Turkey’s action is plunging a war-ravaged region into another phase of violence and instability, and another humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing their homes. Turkey says it is targeting Kurdish ‘terrorists’ who have amassed along the Syria-Turkey border and pose a threat to its security. It is bombing positions of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which spearheads the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkey has designated the YPG a terrorist organization. The Turkish government maintains that it is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) against which Ankara has waged war for decades. Apparently, Turkey is seeking to create a corridor inside Syria where it can settle Syrian refugees who are currently in Turkey. Whatever its reasons, Turkey’s land and air assault on Syria is untenable. Damascus may not be in effective control of the area Turkey is bombarding. Still, this is an invasion. Turkey is violating international law and Syria’s territorial sovereignty. The Syrian civil war, which has raged for over eight years, was fuelled by the United States and Turkey among others. This war is yet to end. Turkey’s renewed aggression is incendiary and irresponsible.

The US cannot escape responsibility for the current crisis. It backed the SDF with funds and weapons to oust President Bashar al-Assad and then used it again to drive out Islamic State (IS). Soon after its withdrawal of troops from the Turkey-Syria border, President Donald Trump is said to have given Turkey the green signal to wipe out the SDF. In the past too, the US has betrayed the Kurds after encouraging them to rebel against authorities. The Turkish offensive and the ensuing instability in Syria could pave the way for the revival of IS and al-Qaeda in the region. Terror groups thrive where chaos reigns, and the US and Turkey have provided them with just that terrain. The civil war left Syrian Kurds in control of North-East Syria. They set up their own governing bodies there. These structures will collapse now. Kurdish aspirations for autonomy/independence have been dealt a blow. President Assad will benefit from Turkey’s aggression. The weakening of the Kurds, a goal that eluded him, will be achieved thanks to the Turkish action.

India has condemned Turkey’s “unilateral military offensive.” Delhi’s sharp words may have been prompted by Turkey’s recent all-out support for the Pakistani position on Kashmir. While India has done well to call on Ankara to end the aggression, linking its stand on Turkey to ties with another country is not in India’s interest.

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