Turkey is supporting and setting Jihadist groups against the Kurds


PYD Kurd checkpoint

To the Press & Public Opinion

There have been important developments since November 8th in Serekani (Ras al-Ayn), the Kurdish area of Syria, which is also on the border of Turkey. Neighbouring a town by the same name (Ceylanpınar) on the Turkey border, Serekani is a multicultural and multiethnic city with Arab, Assyrian and Circassian inhabitants. Both Serekanis are divided by barbed wire. On November 8th 2012 the armed groups Ghuraba al-Sham, Al-Nisra Front and Al-Tawhid Front – all groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Salafis – entered Serekani (Syria) from the Turkish border.

The majority of the members of the above mentioned groups are not Syrian, but formed of Jihadist people from different countries. Furthermore the Free Syrian Army has also declared that these groups do not belong to them. The command and logistics centre of these groups isTurkey. Initially these groups battled with the Syrian Army and embedded themselves in the Arab neighbourhoods. When they had consolidated their place they then began attacking the Kurdish neighbourhoods.

On November 19th 2012 they ambushed the Serekani Kurdish People’s Parliament President, Abid Xelil, and those next to him, as they were on their way to a meeting. Abid Xelil and another person were killed and three others were wounded in the attack. This resulted in battles between the YPG (Kurdish People’s Defence Battalions) and these Jihadist groups.

When the battles intensified and the mentioned groups began fighting, they were reinforced by missiles launched from the Turkish side; other logistic support was also provided and they carried their wounded militants over the Turkish border. Despite this, a great part of the city was cleansed of these groups. Currently they have a presence only in a few neighbourhoods which are on the border and face Turkey. At the moment there is a ceasefire, due to the intervention of a few Arab tribes. However these groups could go back on the offensive at any time if they receive reinforcements fromTurkey.

Turkey’s Syrian policy is wholly shaped around an anti-Kurdish axis. Only two years ago Turkey was in the best of relations with the Syrian regime. Together they were conducting operations against the Kurds. Tayyip Erdoğan and Beşar Al-Assad were constantly seen arm-in-arm and they were close enough to take family vacations together. Their common interest was their anti-Kurdish policy. Then the Turkish government, in the belief that the Syrian regime would topple early on, put their weight behind the opposition. The aim was to be on the same page as the opposition in relation to the Kurdish issue.

However the regime has not been toppled yet. The Kurds have become a force and begun administering their own areas. The Kurdish region is calm and many people fleeing from the conflict in other areas have found sanctuary in these areas. This is whyTurkeyis uncomfortable and wants to disturb the Kurdish region and in the process endanger the gains of the Kurds. This is why they are arming groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Salafis and sending them to the Kurdish Region.

Turkey is the real force behind the Serekani attack and ensuing developments. They tried the same thing in the Kurdish neighbourhoods of Aleppo but were forced to retract after heavy losses and they were also defeated in the Kurdish city of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab). However, Turkey and the groups that are aiding their policies have not given up yet. Turkey is continuing its enmity towards Kurds both inside Turkey and outside; this is the root of the problem.

Although the main concern of Turkey’s Syrian policy is the gains made by the Kurds, it is not limited to this. There is also a sectarian approach, which foregrounds Sunni-Islam, which is what Turkey’s Middle East policy currently rests on. This is the connection between the AKP and the Islamic and Jihadist groups it is supporting; although not the same, they belong to the same ideological family. This is why they were collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood from the outset and foregrounded this organisation from among the Syrian opposition; transferring their central command toTurkeyand providing every type of support in the process.

And now Turkey has asked for Patriot missiles from NATO and it will be provided with these. They will be deployed on theSyriaborder. The Syrian Army does not have the strength to attack, let alone target or threaten Turkey. Therefore the argument that ‘these missiles are for defence purposes’ does not ring true. The only purpose of these missiles is to form a buffer zone inNorth Syria. As is well known, North Syria is home to the Kurdish people. By forming a buffer zone in this area, Turkey is attempting to intervene in and prevent any possible Kurdish gains.

The area where the Patriot missiles will be deployed is right across the zone of conflict. With this deployment, the air-space control of many areas taken over by the rebels and all of the Kurdish region will fall into the hands of Turkey. The Patriot missiles will protect the rebels against airstrikes by Syrian warplanes and the prerequisites for a no-fly zone will come into effect. Therefore Turkey will do everything in its power to either engage in a direct intervention or intensify its support for Islamist-Jihadist groups to take control of the Kurdish region. This isTurkey’s intention and this is why they have asked for the Patriot missiles.

From whichever aspect it is viewed, Turkey’s Syrian policy will create new problems for the region and the world. If this policy is successful, it will lead to a long-term civil war in Syria and create a new Lebanon for the region and a new Afghanistan for the Jihadist groups. It is evident that this will not benefit anyone but, conversely, it complicates the situation.

However neither is it possible nor a solution to accept the current regime and status quo. What needs to be done is the following: Without engaging in military intervention, a dialogue which includes all the political, religious, ethnic and other groups in Syria must begin and be supported by all so that a democratic, plural and inclusive Syria can be shaped.

Within this framework, we call on all forces concerned and public opinion to be aware of Turkey’s aggressive anti-Kurdish policy and sectarian approach, and to take a stance against this in support of a political solution to the Syria issue.

Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) Executive Council, 26.11.12


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