A ticking time bomb: Meeting the ISIS women of al-Hol

Al-Hol woman A woman at al-Hol camp in Syria. Image: Mutlu Civiroglu

A pregnant woman was reportedly beaten to death this week in a Syrian refugee camp housing tens of thousands of people displaced by the war against Islamic State where they live among the militants’ wives and children in conditions described by international agencies and reporters who have visited the camp as harsh, dire, and even apocalyptic.

The woman, identified as 30-year-old Sodermini by ANHA news agency, was six months pregnant, and originally from Indonesia. On July 28, her body was discovered in a tent and taken to a hospital run by the Kurdish Red Crescent, where an autopsy determined she had suffered tremendously before she died.

The Indonesian government said it is investigating the circumstances of her death, and the woman is believed to be among about 50 Indonesian adherents to Islamic State living among about 70,000 people in the camp. It’s not known yet who killed her or why.

Children have died in the camp, and the International Committee of the Red Cross said recently that, despite the efforts of international NGOs to treat people with war wounds, infections, or who are suffering from malnutrition, the humanitarian needs in al-Hol remain “tremendous.”

Last month, Kurdish analyst and journalist Mutlu Civiroglu visited al-Hol camp and other areas managed by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, the de facto government in northern and eastern Syria. He found al-Hol to be a “ticking time bomb” – dangerously overcrowded, too large for the Kurdish internal security police force called the Asayish to control, and full of children deeply at risk of becoming the next generation of ISIS fighters.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Women in al-Hol campWomen walk in al-Hol camp in Syria in July 2019. Image: Mutlu Civiroglu

The Defense Post: To start, tell me about the camps. Who runs them? How many people are there –how many women, men and children? How many are believed to be ISIS adherents and their families? How many are civilians?

Mutlu Civiroglu: According to the U.N. over 70,000 people live in al-Hol Camp. UNICEF estimates that more than 90% of them are children and women. Nearly 20,000 of the children are Syrians. According to Kurdish officials I spoke with, in total there are about 30,000 ISIS women and their children from 62 different countries. They are mainly in al-Hol but also in Ain Issa and Roj camps.

The whole of al-Hol camp is very crowded. Over 70,000 people live there. Considering the very hot summer, the camp residents live under very tough circumstances.

We were there one day when it was very hot. The sewage water was outside, on the surface – a very unhygienic environment and invitation for disease and illness. There are not enough doctors or health centers, according to the people we spoke to.

Security-wise it’s very risky because it’s over-crowded, hard to control. A few weeks ago an Asayish officer was stabbed. A 14-year-old Azeri girl was killed because she was not covering her hair, according to the people on the ground. I had to go to the camp with strong protection after this incident. It’s like a ticking bomb. The Kurdish administration runs the camp but UNICEF [the U.N. children’s agency], UNHCR [the U.N. refugee agency], the Red Cross, World Health Organization, and other intergovernmental organizations are there to support them, from what I could see.

Abdulkarim Omar, head of foreign relations in Jazira canton, told me that including Syrians and Iraqis there a total of 30,000 ISIS women and children under their control and around 12,000 are foreigners (muhajirs) and 8,000 of them are children. Of course male suspected ISIS members are kept in prison in different locations. Currently some 6,000 ISIS fighters are under SDF control: 5,000 are Iraqi and Syrian, and the other 1,000 are foreigners from 55 different states.

TDP: How are they separated?

The ISIS families are separated from the rest of the Iraqis and Syrians. There are wires separating them from the rest of the refugee community in the camp, and their location is known by the security and Asayish forces.

TDP: Do they live more or less freely within the camp or are their schedules and movements restricted?

The camp residents were allowed to go out for shopping until recently, but several escape incidents took place, and some ISIS women were taken out by smugglers, so the camp administration recently banned residents from going out. Instead they set up a new market inside of the camp, called Baghuz market. The administration is more strict now.

Their movements have to be restricted because of the killings. I was told the Russian women did that [killing of a 14-year-old Azeri girl] – by Russian I mean women from Chechnya, Dagestan, the Muslim republics of Russia – so their movements are more restricted and security is tightened after these incidents. Some camp residents have complained that because they’re not allowed out of the camp, the prices became more expensive and they’re having a hard time living because things are more expensive now. But they also acknowledge that by the mistake of some of the ISIS wives they’re all suffering.

I was told that kids are encouraged by women to throw stones at the camp officials. This also creates pressure on the security forces to be more careful.

TDP: What is the food and water supply like? Medicine? Sanitation? Are international organisations helping with humanitarian needs?

Based on what I saw I think there is enough water, but because the camp is overcrowded it causes problems especially with the water and in the summer. The Red Cross, WHO and UNHCR are there to provide help in addition to the Kurdish administration. They are also in-camp hospitals and health centers being built and mobile health centers set up by the Kurdish Red Crescent, so I don’t think there is a very desperate need, but because of the large number of residents I’m sure from time to time food and water is becoming a problem. International organizations and the local government are there trying to do their best.

However, Kurdish officials are asking for more support from the international community in terms of medicine, hospitals, water and cleaning materials. They also want countries to take back their citizens so that the population of the camp will be reduced.

TDP: There were some reports recently that some women escaped – do you know how? What is internal security like?

I was told the same thing and also read that some people in the Asayish are involved in taking the women out of the camps, but Kurdish officials strongly denied that and said it’s propaganda and their members would never be involved in such a thing because money is nothing for them, and they do this because of their values.

But the way different sources explained it to me is this: The women were allowed to leave the camp before for shopping, and since they all have the black burqa on, they look alike, and when they leave, they never come back because their families arrange a smuggler who is waiting for them in the town. Once these women go out of the camp they change their clothes and they are smuggled out. Since the camp is very large it’s not possible to have 100% control. That’s why the camp administration has now stopped allowing the women to leave for shopping. According to sources it’s arranged by families who pay a large amount of money to smugglers.

Internal security is tight. There are many Asayish forces guarding the camp, and the main gate is also a checkpoint. Before you reach the camp you pass through several checkpoints on the road from Hasakah. After you enter the main gate there’s another gate that’s also well-protected, and visitors are strictly controlled. When you’re inside they give you protection so stabbing incidents won’t happen. With me I think there were four people guarding us.

But again, because of the large area and a huge number of residents it’s not very easy to control the camp, and since you don’t know what’s inside of the tents or what kind of weapons they might have it’s not 100% safe or secured.

Al-Hol marketAuthorities in the al-Hol camp in Syria set up a market called Baghuz in an attempt to counter the smuggling of female ISIS adherents. Image: Mutlu Civiroglu

TDP: Do the families seem to be repentant?

I observed mixed feelings. Some were defiant; for example an Egyptian woman was cursing us. She was using bad language and was very aggressive towards us, and was chanting pro-ISIS slogans. Also Russian-origin ISIS wives were very aggressive, so you see that they’re very motivated by what they’re doing. Some Turkish ISIS families seemed defiant, but at the same time I saw some Azeri women look very regretful. They seemed willing to go back home.

One Tajik woman showed me drawings by her child, saying her son drew their home and they want to go home. And you see people saying they were deceived, especially Dutch and Belgian ISIS wives, they say they believed everyone was equal but realized that the rich lived better lives, and the emirs paid money to smuggle their families out of Baghuz before the SDF took control, but these women ended up in these camps in very tough circumstances.

They were criticizing Baghdadi, saying he was in Libya living a good life but they are like this [in al-Hol], and they want their countries to take them back. When I pressured ed them, saying they had many opportunities to leave and that they came to Syria willingly, they said they are ready to be in prison in their countries, but at least their children would not live in camp conditions. They hoped even when they are in prison, their families will be able to take care of children. They were well-aware that they might spend long years in prison, which I found very interesting.

Because of the tough circumstances in the camp I think going home is a common desire. But to me the most important thing was that the vast majority of the camp residents are children, and especially children under 12. They are on the dirt, they play in dusty alleys – no playground, no sanitizing, under the sun – I think no child should be living under those circumstances, no matter what their parents did. Children have nothing to do with this, so they need to be given the opportunity to play and be a child, to flourish. They need help to get out of this trauma and be de-radicalized and rehabilitated, and the camp is no place for that. They need expert support and psychological support.

I am hoping that the governments will understand that children desperately need help, because if they stay there they will be brainwashed by their mothers. In a few years these children are going to be core ISIS members, so there’s a danger waiting for societies if these kids are not helped as soon as possible.

TDP: Do you think there’s a realistic possibility of a tribunal? Why in North and East Syria rather than the International Criminal Court, or trials in Iraq for foreigners, as with some French citizens who already have been sentenced? The Autonomous Administration isn’t recognized as a government, so how would sentences or verdicts given by the tribunal have any force in international law?

The Autonomous Administration feels like they’re under pressure because there are thousands of ISIS fighters, their wives and children. It’s a heavy burden for them to carry so they need the international community to help them. Especially after the Turkish statements about a military operation inside Syria, there are concerns that such a move may help these people to flee from the prisons and camps. But so far very few countries have taken back their citizens so the problem remains on Kurds’ shoulders and they feel like they need to do something.

The idea of an international tribunal is a step in this direction to push the international community to do more to share the burden with them.

Currently the administration is not recognized officially but a tribunal can be different. The legal experts in International Forum on ISIS conference agreed that there is a base for establishing a tribunal in Rojava because there is already a judicial system, legal experts, lawyers and with the support of the international community a tribunal could be established and it would be a good way to start to find a solution to the huge problem of post-caliphate ISIS.

Again, there are thousands of fighters under SDF control, many of their wives, and tens of thousands of children and they feel like they need to do something because so far the international community is turning a blind eye to the issue.

The caliphate was ended in March. Western countries are not open to the idea to expatriate their citizens. So the problem is with Rojava, with the Syrian Kurds. The attacks show the gravity of the situation, and since nothing is being done, Kurds and their allies feel like they need to take the initiative.

Iraq is motivated to do that in a way to clear its name that was ruined when it was overrun by ISIS. The Iraqi army fled from ISIS and left it for them. But at the same time, Iraq is also driven by the idea of revenge. Numerous ISIS members have already been executed.

The system in Rojava is more progressive and closer to Western systems and it is a better location for an international court because most of the fight was done in Syria. The caliphate’s heart was in Raqqa. Manbij is where the attacks against the West were planned. Kobani is where ISIS was first defeated and ISIS’s unstoppable advance was first prevented. Baghuz was the last remaining stronghold of the caliphate. They’re all in Syria. And the SDF, YPG, YPJ, Syriac Military Council are there so Syria is more suitable than Iraq considering these people have done the work, they have paid the highest price. These people defeated ISIS.

Al-Hol security gateA security gate separates the families from ISIS fighters from displaced Syrians and Iraqis at al-Hol camp. Image: Mutlu Civiroglu

TDP: Are there plans to help the victims of ISIS?

There are some orphanages for the Yazidi children, de-radicalization centers for Yazidi children and other ISIS children, and some villages for Yazidi women who were not accepted back by their communities, but the resources are very limited in the Kurdish parts of Syria. Finances, expert advice and equipment are limited, so there has to be external support. The West especially should step in because the problem is very serious and requires a joint effort by Kurds and the West, especially the countries that are members of the international Coalition. The camps have the support of the international, humanitarian organizations but mainly Kurds are running them. There are great efforts, but it’s not enough.

TDP: Do you see any sign that the International Forum on ISIS conference has influenced foreign countries to change their Syria policies? Will they leave troops in the north, will they take their citizens back?

Such international forums are good venues to understand what’s happening on the ground and hear what people people on the ground – activists, experts, military and political leadership – say. It’s very important. There were representatives from the U.S., France, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other European countries, as well as South Africa. It’s important that people from different backgrounds come and learn about the situation in Syria, ISIS captives, operations against ISIS families, and also share with the local people what their countries think about it. So it’s a good platform for them, and when these people go back they talk to the public, media and think-tanks. I’m optimistic that they’ll have an impact in their own countries.

I think the countries that have a military presence in northern and eastern Syria will continue; I don’t foresee any significant change in the plans of these countries, specifically the U.S., France, Germany and others. They’ll be there because they all know the ISIS threat is not fully resolved yet. The caliphate is ended but the danger, the ideology is there, the support base is there, sleeper cells are there. CENTCOM Commander Kenneth McKenzie and Ambassador William Roebuck’s recent visit shows that the Coalition gives the same importance to Rojava.

The world has almost forgotten Syria. International foreign policy priorities change so rapidly that Syria does not have the same spot it used to have, but ISIS is a global problem and it hasn’t been fully resolved. The resolution needs a global effort. Taking back citizens from Syria is one way of doing that, because the more people who stay there, the more is it is a ticking bomb.

All countries should repatriate their citizens, and they should try these people in their countries. If not, they should support the idea of helping to set up a tribunal in Rojava so that these people can be brought to justice and pay the price for the atrocities they committed. But I think the world is still turning a blind eye, although recently I see more awareness in terms of countries taking back at least the women and children and sentencing them in their own countries instead of keeping them in Syria.

JOANNE STOCKER

A ticking time bomb: Meeting the ISIS women of al-Hol

Li Washingtonê projeya Rojava

Hevseroka MSD´ê Ilham Ehmed li Washigtonê di panelekê de got, ew alîkariyê ji bo projeya xwe ya siyasî dixwazin û divê ew di nava çareseriyeke siyasî de cihê xwe bigirin.

Bi organîzasyona ARCDEM´ê (‏Navenda Rojava a ji bo Demokrasiyê ya Emerîkî) bi navê  “Piştî DAIŞ´ê? Bakurê Sûriyê li ber duriyanekê” li paytexta Emerîkayê Washingtonê panelek bi rê ve çû. Di vê panelê de Hevseroka Meclîsa Sûriyeya Demokratîk (MSD) Îlham Ehmed, ji zanîngeha Columbiayê Prof. David L. Phillips, analîstê ji Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Nicholas A. Heras û nivîskara pirtûka “Nearamiya Civakî û Baregehên Eskerî yên Emerîkî li Tirkiye û Elmanyayê ji 1945´an ve” Amy Austin Holmes weke qiseker amade bûn. Rojnamevan û analîstê siyasî Mutlu Çiviroglu moderatoriya panelê kir. Li mekanê panelê Press Club a li paytexta DYE´yê, gelek kes û rojnamevan amade bûn.

Destekê bidin projeya me ya siyasî

Hevseroka MSD´ê Ilham Ehmed axaftina destpêkê ya di panelê de kir û got, “Li Sûriyê niha krîzek heye, û ev krîz kûrtir bû. Em projeyeke nû ji bo Sûriyeke nenavendî pêşniyaz dikin û em hez dikin vê projeyê li tevahiya welêt pêk bînin.”

Ilham Ehmed ji bo dewra Tirkiyeyê li Sûriyê eşkere peyivî û got, “Dewleta Tirk li Sûriyê bi roleke gelekî xirab rabû. Li Efrînê wan komkujî kirin. Pirraniya xelkê Efrînê bi darê zorê koçber kirin. Wan çete û malbatên wan anîn Efrînê û demografî guherand. Wan mal û milkê xelkê dizî û dest avêt jinan.”

Îlham Ehmed navê terorîzmê li van kirinên dewleta Tirk kir: “Em dizanin ku ya Tirkiye dike terorîzm bi xwe ye. Îro, ya em dibêjin ew e ku divê ewlekarî û aramiya herêma me bê parastin. Ya ku em dibêjin ev e; me ewlekariya dinyayê parast (li dijî DAIŞ´ê), em xwe ji bo ewlekariya mirovahiyê berpirsiyar dibînin. Pêdiviya me bi alîkariya wan welatan heye ku me ew parastin.”

Ka ev alîkarî wê alîkariyeke çawa be jî, ji van gotinên Îlham Ehmed diyar bû: “Pêdiviya me bi alîkariya ji bo projeya me ya siyasî heye. Divê em di çareseriyeke siyasî de hebin. Destûrnedana beşdarbûna me di pêvajoya Cenevreyê de zexmkirina krîzê ye, zexmkirina şer e.”

Tenê QSD dikare bi DAIŞ´ê

Nicholas A. Heras di panelê de got, “Ya ku li vir em behsa wê dikin tevgerek e ku hewl dide gelêrî be û bersivê bide daxwazên gel. Li ber çavê me, ha vê kêliyê ya ku em dibînin, bi gewdebûna îdeala sivaka demokratîk e.” Li gorî wî, ji bilî QSD´ê jî ti hêza din wê nikaribe li dijî DAIŞ´ê herêmê biparêze: “Ti hêzeke din a cihî û bikêrhatî (ji bilî QSD´ê) nîne ku karibe ji nû ve derketina holê ya DAIŞ´ê asteng bike.”

Amy Austin Holmes jî îşaret bi girîngiya têkbirina daîmî ya DAIŞ´ê kir û got, “Rêya herî muhim a misogerkirina şikandina daîmî ya DAIŞ´ê ew e ku bê misogerkirin ku îdeolojiya tundraw a Îslamî bê têkbirin.”

WASHINGTON

Li Washingtonê projeya Rojava

 

The distant dream of a secure safe zone in northern Syria

On January 13, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed, in an ambiguous tweet, the creation of a 20-mile safe zone in northern Syria.

Almost 10 days later there is still considerable confusion over what exactly it means and how it might be implemented. The Turkish government wants the area cleared of Syrian Kurdish forces, for instance, while Syrian Kurds oppose any Turkish role. And will it be primarily a Turkish venture, or might the United States spearhead its creation?

Ankara’s preferred safe zone is one that is free of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Syrian Kurdish fighters that make up the bulk of the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that with U.S. help have largely defeated Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. The Turkish government says the YPG is as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule inside Turkey since 1984.

“The leaks about the buffer zone are unworkable,” Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East programme at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told Ahval News. “This is going to be fraught and tenuous.”

“I have a hard time accepting why the SDF would choose the U.S. proposal over the [Syrian] regime alternative, and how Moscow could then blow all this up,” he said, referring to talks the Syrian Kurds began with Damascus following Trump’s Dec. 19 announcement he was pulling the U.S.’ 2,000 troops from Syria. The Kurds hope that by ceding their border regions with Turkey to Damascus they can prevent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s threatened offensive.

Syrian Kurdish authorities have affirmed they will support the creation of a buffer zone if established and run by the United Nations or the U.S.-led coalition. But UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the UN had no plans to participate in the creation of such a safe zone.

The Kurds adamantly oppose any Turkish involvement in the safe zone.

“We really need a safe zone, but without Turkish fingers,” Salih Muslim, former co-leader of the political wing of the YPG, told Kurdistan 24. “We want a safe area with an air embargo. There must be no role for Turkey.”

Any safe zone that is 20-miles deep along the northern Syrian border would include all the major Kurdish cities in Syria.

“The problem with the buffer zone is that there is little information on how the U.S. expects to keep Turkey from attacking and destroying the SDF,” said Nicholas Heras, Middle East Security Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “This is the heart of the matter because Turkey’s vision for the buffer zone is for the Turkish military to control the major Kurdish population centres in northeast Syria.”

“A large component of the SDF comes from these Kurdish areas, and it is to be expected that the SDF would fight Turkey, rather than be dismantled by it,” he said. “The buffer zone concept was supposed to achieve a deal between Turkey and the SDF that allows for power sharing in northeast Syria, as a way to prevent disastrous conflict between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds. Any plan to allow Turkey to control the Kurdish areas of northeast Syria will force the SDF into conflict with Turkey because the SDF is existentially threatened by Turkey.”

Heras said the SDF was trying to reach an agreement with Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad to prevent Turkey seizing land in Syria.

Yaşar Yakış, a Turkish former foreign minister, believes the terms buffer/safe zone are vague.

“A safe zone as it is conceived by Turkey is difficult to set up in northeast Syria. Russia, Iran, the U.S. and many members of the international community will have to be persuaded for it,” Yakış said.

He said Turkey had no means of persuading the SDF to peacefully leave the area.

“However, it may dare to achieve it by using its military power, without persuasion,” Yakış suggested. “If Turkey succeeds in persuading the U.S., Washington has the means to force the YPG to establish a safe zone. But if this is going to be a safe zone with international legitimacy, it has to be sanctioned by a U.N. Security Council resolution, which means that the permanent members of the Security Council – Russia, China, France and the UK – also have to be persuaded.”

Turkey fears the creation of a safe zone similar to the one in northern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, which led to Iraqi Kurds achieving autonomy, he said.

“This will be considered a nightmare by Turkey, as it is vehemently opposed to the emergence of any type of Kurdish entity in the north of Syria,” Yakış said.

Mutlu Civiroglu, a Syria and Kurdish affairs analyst, said Trump’s tweet suggested a preference for protecting Syrian Kurds before mentioning the 20-mile safe zone.

“It’s not clear what it really means,” he said. “Assuming the buffer zone is something the U.S. is going to initiate to protect Kurds, that would be positive and would be accepted by Kurds and their allies.”

Russia could stymie the creation of such a zone though, Civiroglu said.

“Moscow can certainly undermine not only this safe zone, but also any development in Syria since it has the power,” he said. “Its move will depend on the details. Russia has the power and capability of preventing or shaping the steps taken by Turkey, the Syrian government and any other player.”

Mustafa Gurbuz, a non-resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, said the United States had engaged in dual discourse by promising Turkey a safe zone along its southern border on the one hand and promising Syrian Kurds protection from any potential Turkish attack on the other.

“YPG leaders will not retreat in a silent matter,” he said. “The YPG will exploit U.S.-Russia competition to prevent the Turkish safe zone and, in the case of Turkey-Russia agreement, may use its ties with the Assad regime. Thus, it’s a troubling case for Turkey.”

Paul Iddon

https://ahvalnews.com/buffer-zone/distant-dream-secure-safe-zone-northern-syria

Syrian Kurds deny Trump’s claim they sell oil to Iran

Syrian Kurds deny Trump’s claim they sell oil to IranSyrian workers fix pipes from an oil well at an oil field controlled by a US-backed Kurdish group in Rmeilan, March, 27, 2018. (Photo: Associated Press)

 

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Salih Muslim, the former co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), denied claims made by US President Donald Trump that Syrian Kurds have sold oil to Iran.

During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump said he was not happy that the Kurds are selling oil to Iran.

“I didn’t like the fact that [the Kurds] are selling the small oil that they have to Iran, and we asked them not to do it,” the US president stated.

It was not entirely clear whether Trump was referring to the Syrian Kurds or the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.

Speaking to Kurdish journalist Mutlu Civiroglu, Muslim rejected the American leader’s claims and said there is only local use of oil by Kurds in Syria.

“I asked our people here in the administration, in the YPG [People’s Protection Units], and the others, and they said there are no sales of oil to any side outside of Syria,” the former PYD head said.

The Syrian Kurds have no borders with Iran to sell oil to them, Muslim added, “there is no way, everybody should know the reality.”

Muslim suggested Trump was referring to “other Kurds” because “Syrian Kurds have no relations with Iran.”

“We have no deal, nor sales of oil [with] them, not at all,” he said. “Maybe others are doing so, but that’s not our business.”

According to Çeleng Omer, a former university lecturer from Afrin with expertise on oil, while Iran produces four million barrels per day (bpd), Syria’s production before the war was 400,000 bpd, which equals 10 percent of Iranian oil production.

According to Omer, oil production in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) areas in northeastern Syria is only 50,000 barrels. He said this quantity is “consumed locally by refining it in primitive refineries,” adding that Trump may have “confused the Kurds in Syria, with those in Iraq.”

“There is no border between the Syrian Kurdish region with Iran, and the oil produced in their areas is not enough to satisfy local needs, and the war destroyed a large part of the oil fields” which need to be restored before being exported, Omer explained.

“The oil produced in SDF areas meets the needs of fuel in the domestic market only.”

Nicholas A. Heras,  a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), said: “Trump’s statement could mean a couple of things.”

“One, he declassified hitherto classified info about the extent of YPG-Iranian relations in Syria. Or two, he mixed up talking points in his head from an earlier conversation with Turkey about Kurds in Iraq and Syria.”

Meanwhile, Alan Mohtadi, head of T&S Consulting Energy and Security, told Kurdistan 24 he is certain President Trump confused the Syrian Kurds with Kurds in Iraq.

Mohtadi explained that Syrian Kurdistan produces between 30-40,000 bpd, adding that almost all of the oil is used for local consumption.

“They would need to produce three to four times more, get a decent transport route (the border with the Kurdistan Region is tightly controlled), and transport it via trucks to Iran,” he said.

“This is not profitable and logistically almost impossible.”

The KRG announced in November that oil exports to Iran stopped after a new round of US sanctions were enforced.

Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

 

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/0b078a0a-836e-4564-aaaf-c0d30add8307

How long will Turkey stay in Syria?

In recent months, Turkey has made significant investments in areas under its control in northern Syria, launching local employment projects, opening Turkish post offices and even building a new highway linking the Syrian city of Al-Bab to Turkey. These commitments indicate that Ankara seeks a significant role in shaping the future of northern Syria, an area of great strategic importance.

Turkey currently controls a large swathe of territory in northwestern Syria consisting of Al-Bab and the border cities of Jarablus and Azaz, captured from Islamic State (ISIS) in the Euphrates Shield operation it launched in August 2016. It also occupies the enclave of Afrin, situated a little further westward of the Euphrates Shield zone, which it captured from Syrian Kurdish forces in its Olive Branch operation early this year.

Earlier this month, Turkish media highlighted several new projects launched by Ankara. It began training 6,500 more of the proxy militiamen who fight on Turkey’s behalf under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Azaz. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that 260,000 Syrian refugees had successfully resettled there. Turkey also supplied 3.6 million textbooks to Syrian schools and drilled 69 wells to provide water for 432,000 people. A business association head also announced that 4,000 Turkish firms were operating in both the Euphrates Shield zone and Afrin.

State-run Turkish news outlets have a clear motive in extolling Turkey’s more humanitarian endeavours. Nevertheless, such reports demonstrate a clear intention on Ankara’s part to consolidate its sizeable foothold in northern Syria.

“The head is Turkish, the body Syrian,” quipped one Syrian man when describing all the various institutions, ranging from the security and police forces to the local councils that Turkey has established in the areas it controls. ‘Brotherhood has no borders’ is also a slogan inscribed on those Turkish-built institutions in both Turkish and Arabic. While such anecdotal examples may indicate that Turkey seeks to gradually annex these territories, Ankara invariably stresses that it supports preserving Syria’s territorial integrity.

Turkey’s two operations into Syria did fulfil some of its security needs. ISIS no longer has a foothold on Turkey’s border thanks to Euphrates Shield, and Olive Branch fulfilled Ankara’s goal of preventing the Syrian Kurds from taking over all of Syria’s northern border. Remaining in Syria, or at least retaining a sizeable proxy FSA presence there, will help ensure these battlefield victories are not undone.

“Turkish actions in northern Syria are driven by security concerns,” Timur Akhmetov, a Middle East analyst at the Russian International Affairs Council, told Ahval News.

“To enhance its chances there, Turkey supports a military presence by providing limited humanitarian assistance. It is not, however, feasible at the moment to see if such investments will be guaranteed by the main actors in Syria, such as Damascus, or whether they will result in pro-Turkish sentiments in the long-run.”

The Syrian regime, which has retaken most of the country, has staunchly opposed Turkey’s cross-border incursions since the start of Euphrates Shield. Russia has proven more tolerant of the Turkish military presence, but is unlikely to recognise or acquiesce to any potential Turkish annexation of Syrian territory.

“Turkey is trying to convert its presence into political influence, but Russia so far has clearly signalled to Turkey that the Turkish presence in northern Syria is tolerated due to Turkish security concerns, meaning that no political claims are recognised as legitimate by the Astana agreements,” Akhmetov said.

Akhmetov compared Turkey’s presence in Syria to Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon to remove the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) from the south of the country next to its border. For much of the next 18 years, it controlled a swathe of southern Lebanon alongside a proxy army called the South Lebanon Army (SLA) that, much like the Turkish-backed FSA forces today, it armed and trained to help enforce a buffer zone in that area, before finally withdrawing in 2000.

As with most analogies, there are some important distinctions between this ongoing case and that historic case.

“I’m not sure if the best way to look at it is in terms of legal annexation,” said Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank. “These areas have been a direct Turkish sphere of influence, and have been getting more and more integrated into Turkish administration. In many ways, for historical, political and cultural reasons, that goes well beyond what Israel had in southern Lebanon.”

Badran, like Akhmetov, sees Russia as the primary player in determining how long this situation lasts.

“For as long as the status quo between Turkey and Russia persists, and the limitations on the Assad regime’s manpower and capabilities continue to be an obstacle to its territorial ambitions, then I suspect this arrangement is likely to remain in its current, de facto, form,” Badran said.

While the Euphrates Shield zone has proven relatively stable and secure under Turkish control, the same cannot be said about Turkish-occupied Afrin.

“When you look at Afrin today there is no stability or security, it is just chaos,” Mutlu Çiviroğlu, a Kurdish and Syria affairs analyst, told Ahval News.

“Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the U.N. Human Rights Commission all state that human rights violations, torture, kidnapping and looting are common in today’s Afrin. This was a region which had exemplary stability and was a refuge for many thousands of displaced people. A place where Kurds and Arabs, Muslims and Yezidis and so on coexisted.”

Çiviroğlu said most of Afrin’s residents had been displaced by Turkey’s invasion while Ankara has facilitated the resettlement of many Syrians from across the country there, sparking accusations that it is working to alter Afrin’s Kurdish-majority demographics.

This month, clashes in Afrin between Turkish-backed factions have left at least 25 dead and bode ill for Ankara’s claims to have brought stability to the tiny enclave. “The clashes provoked terror among civilians,” said the head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdul Rahman, who summed them up as “unprecedented since the rebels seized Afrin”.

Çiviroğlu said that since Turkey is the “occupying power” in Afrin it had the responsibility to maintain stability and security, both of which Afrin has been chronically lacking.

“Turkey’s argument of removing terrorists from that region and bringing stability and security rings hollow,” he said, adding that Turkey’s occupation of Afrin is an attempt to “expand the territories under its control to use as a bargaining chip for negotiations so it can have more of a say over Syria’s future.”

Paul Iddon

https://ahvalnews.com/syrian-war/how-long-will-turkey-stay-syria

Turkey-KRG relations one year after Kurdish independence vote

More than a year after Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum on independence soured hitherto good ties with Turkey, relations are still very significant, particularly on the economic front. However, analysts anticipate that political relations are unlikely to once again become as close and cordial as they were before that referendum.

“Considering its current economic crisis resuming close economic relations with Iraqi Kurdistan, as they existed in the pre-referendum era, will be good for Turkey,” Mutlu Çiviroğlu, a Syria and Kurdish affairs analyst, told Ahval.

“I don’t think politically Turkey’s relations will be as they used to be, especially with Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP),” he said, referring to the former president of the Iraqi Kurdistan region. “But economically Turkey would like to take advantage of the region. Many Turkish companies have been very active in Kurdistan, especially in the western parts of the region where the KDP is the predominant party. To some extent, this is continuing and will likely continue and even get stronger since the Kurdistan region is too important economically for Turkey to ignore or let go.”

Economic ties between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Turkey continued throughout the tense months following the referendum. While Ankara harshly condemned the KRG it never closed its border crossings with it in order to blockade the region, which Iran did from September 2017 to January 2018.

Joel Wing, an Iraq analyst and author of Musings on Iraq, believes that Ankara and the KRG “are set to repair their relationship” one year after it became strained during the referendum.

“While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was angry at the vote, he didn’t put as many sanctions on the KRG as he could have,” Wing told Ahval. “Given that it was only natural that the two would eventually move back together.”

At present, economic ties between the KRG and Turkey are still very significant. Turkey’s pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper reported this month that Turkey would “undertake the lion’s share of infrastructure projects in northern Iraq”.

Turkey and the KRG also agreed to open a new international border crossing between the two, the first with the Kurdish province of Erbil, where the autonomous region’s capital city is located.

“Two weeks ago there was an underground tunnel built in the Iraqi Kurdish border city of Zakho by a Turkish company,” Çiviroğlu said. Iraqi Kurdistan regional Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani “is very keen to improve relations and open doors for Turkish companies, construction and other, in the region. As a result, we can see the continuation of economic relations and maybe even improvement of relations overall.”

Wing agreed that Kurdistan was an important economic partner that Turkey did not want to lose.

For Turkey, the KDP, the predominant Kurdish party in Iraqi Kurdistan’s western Erbil and Duhok provinces, remains “an important ally within Iraq and a counter to other Kurdish groups in the region”, Wing said.

“For the KDP, it’s of utmost importance to maintain this ally as the KRG is economically dependent upon its northern neighbour for its oil exports, trade, and investment,” Wing said. “The referendum was more of a bump in the road than a lasting break between the two.”

Bilal Wahab, the Nathan and Esther K. Wagner Fellow at the Washington Institute think-tank, where his focus is on KRG governance, also sees the Turkish-KRG relationship improving, but does not see it reverting to its pre-referendum heights.

“Turkish-Iraq economic and security relations are improving, which enables Turkey to be less dependent on the KRG,” Wahab told Ahval.

Wahab is also sceptical that economic relations will return to pre-referendum heights since the KRG will no longer be the exclusive Iraqi market for Turkish investors.

In the immediate aftermath of the Kurdish referendum, Turkey’s ultra-conservative press reported that Ankara was contemplating opening a new border crossing near the village of Ovaköy, where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Syria meet, to bypass and economically isolate the KRG, and trade directly with Iraq.

Ankara is exploring the feasibility of opening a crossing in that area today. Given that relations have thawed significantly since last year it is much less likely that Turkey is now seeking to isolate the KRG economically. It is more likely trying to lessen its sole dependence on that autonomous region for trade with the rest of Iraq. At present, it is unclear if this project will actually get off the ground anytime soon since the KRG still controls all of Iraq’s border with Turkey.

Çiviroğlu does not see military and political relations between Ankara and Erbil improving anytime soon.

“In Turkey, there have been calls to carry out more operations against PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) bases in Iraqi Kurdistan,” he said. “This may lead to Turkey trying to get the KDP to help them in such an operation. Although this will unlikely be possible in the near future since Kurds are more careful not to allow themselves to fight one and another.”

Another major hurdle in the way of restoring Turkish-KRG relations to pre-referendum levels was the political fallout and the harsh words Erdoğan used against then Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani.

“The referendum in the mindset of Turkish leaders was a betrayal by Barzani, and Iraqi Kurds generally, so maybe political relations will never be as good as before,” Çiviroğlu said. “But still I think compared to Turkish and Syrian Kurds the Iraqi Kurds comparatively still enjoy better relations.”

Of course, compared to the PKK and other Kurdish groups that Turkey opposes outright the KDP will always be a favourable choice for Ankara and economic relations will likely endure.

The relationship between Turkey and the KDP is also much more cordial than the one between Ankara and the Patriotic Union Party (PUK), the most powerful party in Iraqi Kurdistan after the KDP.

In August 2017 Ankara expelled PUK representatives from Turkey after the PKK kidnapped Turkish intelligence agents in Sulaimani province, the PUK’s main stronghold in Iraqi Kurdistan. Furthermore, while Turkey opened its airspace to Erbil International Airport, following Baghdad’s lifting of the post-referendum flight ban over the Kurdistan region’s airspace in March, it has not yet done the same for Sulaimani International Airport.

“The KRG is not the united front it once was, whereby the PUK’s relationship with the PKK is not the same as the KDP’s,” said Wahab. “This manifests in Turkey banning its flagship airlines from flying to Sulaimani.”

Çiviroğlu sees Turkey’s refusal to reopen its airspace to air traffic going to Sulaimani as “an indicator of Turkish anger and displeasure with the PUK.”

He said the “PUK’s warm relations with Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) and HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) in Turkey, and generally with the PKK, makes the PUK less favourable to Turkey.”

But now that Iraq is working to establish a new government, in which there has been consensus “about the designated prime minister, speaker of parliament and Barham Salih being elected president there is some gradual optimism in Baghdad”, he said.

In light of these developments, Çiviroğlu does not believe that Ankara would try to be a spoiler, “but instead may try and use these changes for its advantage, especially Barham Salih becoming president.”

Ankara may also “use these developments to reset relations with Iraq generally and the Kurdistan region in particular, especially Sulaimani which has been suffering from Turkey’s closure of its airspace,” Çiviroğlu said.

The selection of Salih, a long-time PUK member, as Iraqi president was warmly welcomed by Ankara. İlnur Çevik, an advisor to Erdoğan, described Salih as a good ally of Turkey.

“Dr. Barham has always appreciated the importance of Turkey and has cherished the friendship of Ankara. Now we have a good ally in Baghdad just like Mam Jalal,” Çevik said in a recent editorial. Mam Jalal – Kurdish for ‘Uncle Jalal’ – is an endearing term many Kurds call the late former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who was also the leader of the PUK.

Such sentiments could signify that relations between Ankara and the PUK will be restored in the foreseeable future.

Wahab reasoned that while thawing the frozen relations between Ankara and the PUK “would be an opportunity for President Salih” he also argued that “what factors greater into PUK’s calculation of cosier relations with the PKK is its rivalry with the KDP – one that has heightened since the referendum and recently over Iraq’s presidency and election results.”

The KDP had sought to have its own candidate, Fuad Hussein, run as the next president of Iraq, a position traditionally reserved for the PUK, but lost that bid to Salih.

While Turkey’s relationship with Iraqi Kurdistan successfully endured the worst crisis since its establishment a decade ago, it still has some ways to go before it completely normalises.

Paul Iddon

https://ahvalnews.com/turkey-krg/turkey-krg-relations-one-year-after-kurdish-independence-vote

Syria tensions ramp up as Assad eyes Afrin

Political tensions are mounting once again in Syria as Damascus prepared to send troops into Afrin, where the Turkish military has launched a large-scale operation against Kurdish militants, the People’s Protection Forces (YPG).

As news of the possible deal between Damascus and the Kurds broke, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu warned that no one would stop Turkish troops should Syrian forces enter the enclave, in a barely veiled threat of confrontation. Turkey’s main share index fell on the news.

Turkey, the United States and Russia, as well as Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Kurds, are vying for control of northern Syria, ratcheting up tensions in a seven-year war, after the virtual defeat of Islamic State. The area, home to a mixture of Kurdish and Sunni Arab minorities, is strategically adjacent to Iraq and Turkey, with important oil resources.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad will enter Afrin in the coming hours after reaching an agreement with Kurdish forces, Syrian state media said. Syria woukd also re-establish a military presence along the border with Turkey, which has actively supported a range of armed groups intent on overthrowing Assad’s government, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA), deployed against the Kurds, it said

“If they (the Syrians) are entering to protect the YPG/PKK, nobody can stop the Turkish army,” Çavuşoğlu said at a news conference in Amman, Jordan.

FSA

Militants of the Turkish-backed FSA in Syria

Turkey has rejected any talk of Assad retaking the border, saying his government has courted and supported the Kurds against Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered Turkish troops into Syria on Jan. 20, saying an operation was needed to cleanse the area of Kurdish militants allied with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade war for autonomy from Turkey at the cost of about 40,000 lives, most of them Kurdish.

Russia, however, is concerned about possible clashes between Turkish and Syrian troops should Syria’s army be deployed, and has approached Turkey to negotiate a possible deal, according to Timur Akhmetov, a journalist and researcher for the Russian International Affairs Council.

The deployment of Syrian troops would come just three days after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Ankara and agreed with Turkey to set up working groups to deal with differences between the two NATO allies over Syria. Washington has opposed the Turkish incursion, saying it threatens to de-stablise Syria further and hurt the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) — the Kurds are the most powerful allies as the West does battle with the group.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now “pushing the Assad piece forward” after Ankara and Washington reached the agreement to patch up their relationship, Tim Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at BlueBay Asset Management in London, said on Monday.

Moscow, which has benefited from a closer relationship with Ankara as ties with the U.S. frayed, could now close Syrian airspace to Turkish jets, leaving Turkish troops exposed on the ground, Ash said.

Turkey has broken international law by occupying Afrin after it realised its support for Islamist terrorists flowing across the border from Turkey failed, Bouthaina Shaaban, an aide to Assad, said on Monday, according to Turkish news website Gazete Duvar.

Mutlu Civiroglu, an expert on Kurdish affairs, said the deal between Damascus and the Kurds isn’t done, though may be signed in the coming hours.

Turkey’s main BIST-100 share index fell 0.2 percent to 116,330 points at 3:04 p.m. in Istanbul, reversing earlier gains.

Mark Bentley

https://ahvalnews.com/syria-turkey/syria-tensions-ramp-assad-eyes-afrin

“Afrin Operasyonu Olursa ABD ve Türkiye Ordusu Karşı Karşıya Gelebilir”

Washington’da yaşayan analist Mutlu Çiviroğlu, ABD’nin Afrin operasyonunun gerçekleşmemesi için perde arkasında bir diplomasi yürüttüğünü söylerken, olası operasyonun bölgede ABD ve Türkiye’yi karşı karşıya getirebileceğini de kaydetti.
Özgür Suriye Ordusu (ÖSO) savaşçılarını taşıyan yaklaşık 20 kadar otobüs bugün Suriye’ye geçti. Fotoğraf: DHA

Aylardır telaffuz edilen “Afrin operasyonu” için en son Milli Savunma Bakanı Nurettin Canikli Afrin operasyonunun mutlaka yapılacağını belirterek, “Temel hedefimiz PYD terör örgütünün tamamen ortadan kaldırılması” açıklaması yaptı.

Washington’da yaşayan gazeteci ve analist Mutlu Çiviroğlu’na bölgedeki son durumu, operasyonun gerçekleşmesi halinde gerçekleşebilecek olası krizleri sorduk.

Hükümet kanadının aylardır sözünü ettiği “Afrin operasyonu” için son adımlar atılıyor, operasyonun her an yapılabileceği vurgulandı tekrar.  Ne anlama gelir bir operasyon, aslında tam olarak ne hedefleniyor?

Türkiye’nin Afrin operasyonunun öncelikle Suriye’de daha fazla söz sahibi olma çabası. Çünkü Türkiye Bab, Cerablus hattına hapsolmuş durumda.

Öte yandan en büyük nedeni ise Türkiye’nin büyük bir tehlike olarak gördüğü Suriye’de kazanımlarını artıran, statülerini pekiştiren Kürtlerin söz sahibi olmaması istemi.

Afrin sonuçta YPG’nin kontrolündeki bölgelerden kopuk. Özellikle Türkiye’nin İdlib kuzeyine konuşlanmasından sonra ise dört yönden çevrilmiş durumda. Türkiye bu nedenle Afrin’i zayıf halka olarak görüyor. Bu şekilde Kürt kantonlarının birleşmesini engellemek, oradaki yapıya darbe vurmak, moral bozmak, oradan da Tel Rıfat bölgesinde bir hat açmak, Münbiç’e ulaşmak gibi ikincil planların da olduğunu düşünüyorum.

Kamuoyunun, Suriye uzmanlarının, Kürt uzmanlarının gördüğü, bildiği bir başka geçerli neden yok. Her ne kadar Türkiye hükümeti ve medyası “Afrin’den saldırılar geliyor, biz karşılık veriyoruz” gibi söyleseler de bunun diplomaside, uluslararası basında karşılık görmediği biliniyor.

Türkiye aylardan beri Afrin’e yönelik tehditlerde bulunuyor. Orada terör yuvası olduğunu söylüyor Türkiye Cumhurbaşkanı Sayın Erdoğan. Halbuki Afrin savaştan dolayı da ikiye üçe katlanan nüfusuyla istikrarın olduğu, ekonomik ambargoya rağmen kendi şartlarıyla da kendi kendine yeten, göreceli olarak sanayi, ticaret ve tarım merkezi.

Halkın büyük çoğunluğu da birkaç Arap köyü hariç Kürt. Kürtler arasında Müslüman Kürtlerin yanı sıra Alevi ve Ezidi Kürtlerin de yaşadığı mozaik bir bölge Afrin. Türkiye’ye herhangi bir saldırı, herhangi bir tehdit olmadığı çok açık biliniyor.

Bilakis Rojava’daki yönetimin istemi her zaman Türkiye ile ilişkiler olması yönündeydi. Afrin’de de böyle. Görüştüğüm birçok yönetici Antep ile ticaret yapabilmek oradaki pazarın Türkiye’deki firmalar tarafından açılmasıydı. Yani iyi ilişkilerdi ama maalesef Türkiye’den bu adımlar gelmediği gibi son iki yıldır siyaset sertleşti. İç siyaset açısından bakıldığında ise özellikle son dönemde MHP ile var olan iş birliğinin cazip gördüğü bir adım olarak görülebilir.

“ABD operasyonun yapılmaması için diplomasi yürütüyor”

ABD, Türkiye’nin bölgedeki operasyonuna karşı, bu operasyonu engelleyebilir mi?

Bu gelişmeler Amerika’yı da zor duruma soktu. Bir yandan geleneksel, tarihsel müttefiki, öte yandan son 3 yıldan beri ortak olarak gördüğü, IŞİD gibi global bir tehdide son darbeyi vuran bir yapıyla var olan işbirliği. En son Dışişleri Bakan Yardımcısının “müttefik” diye tanımladığı bir müttefikleri var. Ama ABD her iki tarafı da dost olarak görmesine rağmen Türkiye’nin Rojava’ya tutumu belli. Dün akşam Tillerson biraz toparlamaya çalıştı. Yani ABD için bu çok yeni bir şey değil.

Türkiye “Kürt” lafının geçtiği her şeye tepki veriyor. Ama dünya öyle görmüyor. Rusya da, Amerika da Kürt gerçeğinin farkında. Bütün dünya da Suriye’de Kürtlerin olması gerektiğini söylüyor.

ABD bunu artık açık açık söylüyor. Sonuçta Dışişleri Bakan Yardımcısının senatodaki ifadesinde “Kürtlerin Suriye’de yer alması gerektiğini, görüşmelere katılması gerektiğini, adil şekilde temsiliyeti gerektiğini” söyledi.

Benim görüşüm, ABD bu krizin sakinleşmesi için perde arkasından bir diplomasi yürütüyor. Herhangi bir operasyon olmasın diye. Böyle bir operasyon ABD’nin süre gelen çalışmalarına son verebilir. IŞİD’in dönmesinin engellenme alanına zarar verecek. IŞİD’den kurtarılan bölgelere halkın dönmesi çalışmalarını durduracak. Yani büyük bir kaosa yol açacak. Benim aldığım duyumlara göre de ABD diplomasisi operasyonun olmaması için diplomatik çalışmaları yürütüyor.

ABD ordusunun Doğal Kararlılık Operasyonu Özel Kuvvetler Ortak Görev Gücü Komutanı Tümgeneral James Jerard, geçtiğimiz Kasım ayında Suriye’deki ABD askeri sayısı için “4 bin” demiş, ardından rakamı “500” olarak düzeltmişti.

 

“Bölgede açık açık Amerikan güçleri var”

Bu durumun ABD ile Türkiye ordularını sahada direkt olarak karşı karşıya getirebileceği yönünde yorumlar da var. Böyle bir durum söz konusu olabilir mi?

Askeri olarak karşı karşıya gelebilirler mi konusunda ise, dün Türkiye’nin desteklediği Fırat Kalkanı grupları ile Amerika’nın desteklediği Münbiç Askeri Konseyi, (ki Münbiç’te önemli oranda bir Amerikan askeri var) saldırıya uğradı ve Münbiç Askeri Konseyi de cevap verdi. Olayın hemen ardından Amerikan askerleri bölgeye intikal etti. Ben bunu özel kaynaklardan biliyorum.

O yüzden böyle bir direkt çatışma olasılığı var. Çünkü Münbiç YPG’nin bir parçası olan SDG’nin olduğu bir bölge. Açık Açık Amerikan güçlerinin olduğu bir bölge. Böyle bir saldırı olduğunda Amerikan askerleri ile de direkt bir çatışma yaşanabilir.

“Rusya’nın tutumu İdlib’le ilgili bir pazarlık olabilir”

Rusya şu an için ortada davranıyor daha çok sessiz kalıyor gibi bir tablo var. Olası operasyonda Rusya’nın tavrı ne olur?

Zaten bir operasyon olursa Rusya’nın tavrı yeşil ışık bana göre. Rusya Türkiye’nin Suriye politikasında çok belirleyici. Afrin bölgesinde de Rus barış denetleme gücü mevcut. O yüzden Türkiye’deki yetkililer de Rusya’ya gitti. Afrin bölgesiyle ilgili şu ana kadar görülen Ruslar, bir yeşil ışık yakmadı ama öte yandan Rusya’nın siyaseti de Kürtleri biraz rejime muhtaç bırakmak yönünde.

O yüzden Kürtlerin YPG’nin Rojava ile ilişkilerinin gelişmesinden de rahatsız. Kürtlerin fazla ABD’ye yaklaşmasını da istemiyor, Türkiye’nin Kürt fobisini de kullanıyor. Ama öte yandan Astana görüşmeleriyle var olan mutabakata Türkiye’nin sadık kalmadığı yorumları var. İdlib’de Türkiye’nin desteklediği grupları zor durumda bırakan gelişmeler var.

Türkiye-İran, Türkiye-Rusya, Rusya-İran arasında çelişkilerin de var olduğu bir dönem. O nedenle ancak Rusya yeşil ışık yaktığında Türkiye böyle bir operasyon yapar. Ki benim görüşüm Rusya, Türkiye’yi çok iyi tanıyor. Böyle bir şeye kolay kolay izin vermeyecektir. Ama kapalı kapılar ardında ne pazarlıklar yapılıyor onu da bilmiyoruz.

Rusya’nın tutumu biraz da İdlib’de bir pazarlık olabilir. Afrin’i ver, İdlib’i al gibi bir pazarlık da olabilir. Böyle spekülasyonlar da yapılıyor.

“Yıllar süren ayrışmalara neden olabilir”

YPG komutanı Hemo ve PYD yönetiminden de ardı ardına açıklamalar geldi. Sahada nasıl bir durum meydana gelir? Türkiye fiili bir savaşın içine girer mi?

Afrin hem Halep’te yaşayan Kürtlerin gelmesiyle hem de Suriye’den kaçan insanların sığınmasıyla Şahbe bölgesi dahil, yaklaşık 500 binden fazla insanın yaşadığı, iç mültecilerle birlikte 700-800 bin rakamı telaffuz ediliyor.

Ticareti, sanayisi olan önemli bir bölge ve halkı Kürt. Tarihsel olarak da dediğimiz gibi Kürt Dağı denilen bölge. Birkaç Arap köyü hariç Kürt. PYD’ye kitlesel olarak en çok desteğin olduğu, Kürt kimliğinin çok sahiplenildiği bir bölge Afrin. YPG/PYD muhalifi partiler bile onları ulusal güç olarak görüyor. O yüzden halkı, Araplar da dahil Türkiye’nin müdahalesine çok karşı. Türkiye’nin Afrin’e girmesi zaten kolay değil, öyle bir şey olsa bile çıkması kolay değil. Türkiye’de bu operasyonu düzenleyen insanların başarılı olması çok zor. Çünkü hem Afrin coğrafyası, hem halkı, kolay kolay izin vermez Türkiye’nin orada barınmasına. Afrin, Cerablus ya da El Bab gibi değil.

Türkiye ordusu YPG karşısında zorlanacaktır. Türkiye’deki Kürt siyasetçiler de buna vurgu yapıyor. Ahmet Türk de en son konuşmuştu. Türkiye’deki Kürtlerin de Rojava’ya küçük kardeş gözüyle baktığı biliniyor. Hiç sebep yokken böyle bir saldırının Türkiye’deki Kürtler açısından da rahatsızlık yaratacağı ortada.

Bu yıllar sürebilecek ayrışmalara, zıtlaşmalara yol açabilir. Kobani sürecinde Guardian gazetesine de yazmıştım Türklerin ve Kürtlerin beraberliği için altın bir fırsattı Kürtler dardayken Türkiye’den yardım gitmesi. Ama maalesef o yaşanmadı ve Kobani sürecinde çok yaralar açıldı. Afrin’de de bu yaşanabilir. O yüzden umudum böyle bir şeyin yaşanmaması.

Kısa ve uzun vadede nasıl bir tablo çıkar karşımıza operasyon başlarsa?

Dediğim gibi umarım böyle bir şey olmaz, Türkiye daha yapıcı ve gerçekçi bir bakış açısıyla yaklaşır. Rojava’yı ve Rojava’nın kazanımlarını da tehlike olarak görmez. Çünkü Türkiye için tehlike değil. Hiçbir saldırı olmaması YPG’nin olmadığı bölgelerden göz önünde bulundurulmalı. Kürtler büyük bir bedel ödediler dünya adına, günlerce genç insanlarını feda etti, IŞİD ile savaştı, Nusra ile savaştı. Yeni Suriye’de artık Kürtler eskisi gibi diri diri mezara gömülmeyi kabul etmezler, edemezler. (PT)

 

https://m.bianet.org/bianet/kriz/193480-afrin-operasyonu-olursa-abd-ve-turkiye-ordusu-karsi-karsiya-gelebilir

C-SPAN. C-SPAN3. Turkey’s Response to Islamic Militants

Turkey’s Response to Islamic Militants

hosted a discussion on Turkey’s response to ISIL* militants in the Middle East region and ongoing U.S. strikes against targets in Syria.

“Turkey: ISIS and the Middle East” was a program of Georgetown University’s Institute of Turkish Studies, co-sponsored by the Middle East Institute.

*The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a militant group that has called itself the Islamic State.

https://www.c-span.org/video/?321686-1/discussion-turkeys-response-isis#