News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
The following article “Suriye Senaryosu” was written by M. Ali Çelebi for Özgür Gündem. It has been translated into English below.
CHP General Secretary Gürsel Tekin shook up the political agenda when on May 7th and 8th he asserted that Turkey would go into Syria, telling reporters that “my source is very strong, very reliable.” Even before Teksin gave his statement to the Turkish-daily Taraf there had been widespread speculation that there would be some desperate move from Ankara to go into Syria before the June 7th elections and that the AKP, which already saw in the polls that it would lose a significant amount of votes in coming voting, would start up a new conflict in order to distract attention and to delay the elections. Even more speculating emerged when after Tekin’s statement the Commander of the Chief of State Necdet Özel went away on two weeks medical leave and left the command of the Turkish Armed forces to Commander of the Army Hulusi Akar. Amidst all of these developments Turkey has begun a military building directly across from the border-town of Serekaniye in Rojava, where locals have put up a strong resistance against Turkish supported armed gangs.
If one considers all of this then will Turkey – which has been carrying out a proxy war through groups such as ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Ahrar ash-Sham, the Islamic Front and the al-Fatih Army and which for a long time has wanted the United States to join it in forming a security buffer zone in Northern Syria – enter Syria before the elections? Even if Turkey wants to occupy Rojava and set up a puppet administration in Damascus I do not consider this very likely. Even the Gulf states which have take the decision to form an Arab army and which have collected a massive stockpile of arms for this project would not go in with the help of the United States or France. They won’t to take on the full responsibility of supplying political and military support alone. Their preference is to continue to arm their proxies. Ankara and the AKP know full well that while the economy is in such difficult straits any new conflict will only pull the rug out from under them. As soon as a couple of city signs came down they would take the AKP government and President Erdoğan to the presser. Just think of the serious material and military loses that would occur if Turkey attempted to form this buffer zone. And because they won’t be able to hid the civilian loses they will end up in the same category as Assad. They would have serious problems with Iran and Russia around natural gas and plans to construct nuclear power plants in Turkey. Iran can count on Hezbollah’s rockets. Just think that they have even fought with Mustafa Akıncı, who was just elected President of Northern Cyprus with the support of a Left coalition. If the knife in the back comes in Cyprus? They will not give up their power to struggle with Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt and Lebanon over Eastern Mediterranean natural gas.
This is all to say that if Turkey goes in alone it will quickly become marginalized. And how would Turkey go in? It would only work with the approval of the PYD, as it worked on May 10th when Turkish Prime Minister Davutoğlu crossed the border to visit and pray at the Tomb of Suleyman Shah at its new location Aşme (Eşme) in Rojava (and PYD-controlled territory). Turkey’s plan is simple: protect ISIS control of Gire Spi (Til Abyad) and thereby prevent the Kobane and Cizire Cantons of Rojava from establishing territorial continuity. And to support the ISIS presence in Gire Spi until it can find another group to do the job.
The Threat To Efrin
When I asked the representative of the PYD in France Halid İsa whether or not Turkey continued to support ISIS he stressed that was still helping the group. Adding that it was also supporting the al-Fatih Army that has been established to fight in Aleppo, İsa shared the story of an individual who had until just recently been on the border and had just returned to Paris. According to this observer Turkey was continuing to provide support across the border for armed groups such as ISIS. “Turkey is afraid of creating problems on its territory” İsa says. I asked him whether the al-Fatih Army posed a threat to Efrin, the easternmost of the Rojava cantons. “Of course” he said “they will be alone there. And after that they will direct their attention us.” In response to Gürsel Tekin’s statement he said that “Turkey will not go in [to Syria] unless the large states give their permission.”
When I asked the same question about Efrin to İlham Ehmed, a member of the TEV-DEM coordinating body, he told me that although one can never be certain what groups like al-Nusra Front or Ahrar ash-Sham will do “they always constitute a threat. In particular ISIS and al-Nusra Front.”
And will Aleppo fall? Ehmed’s response: “Aleppo is expected to fall but not right away. Right now people are talking as if Syria will be divided. According to this plan the central region will belong to Sunnis. Right now Iran is preoccupied with Yemen. It cannot take charge in Syria like it used to. There are big clashes taking place and the Assad regime is being driven back. They are moving toward Damascus and the coast.”
Ehmed emphasized that heavy weapons were being sent by Turkey and Saudi Arabia as part of the effort. “A lot of weapons have been sent. Forces have also been trained..now let Turkey play a positive role to stop this war. It needs to play an important role in order for the people to return to their homes. It is always being said that these gangs are crossing back and forth across the border. Either directly or indirectly, they are being supported. For all of these reasons this needs to end.”