Civiroğlu: Trump Güvenli Bölge Mutabakatını Boşa Düşürdü

ABD’de yaşayan gazeteci Mutlu Civiroğlu, Türkiye’nin Suriye’ye yönelik olası operasyonuna ilişkin bianet’e konuştu. Civiroğlu, “Amerikan kamuoyu tepkili ve öfkeli, Trump’ın bu kararından vazgeçmesini istiyor” dedi.

Manşet fotoğrafı: Anadolu Ajansı

 

ABD Başkanı Donald Trump ile Cumhurbaşkanı Tayyip Erdoğan arasında Türkiye saati ile pazar akşamı gerçekleşen telefon konuşmasının ardından Beyaz Saray’dan “Türkiye kısa bir süre içinde Suriye’nin kuzeyine uzun zamandır planladığı operasyonu başlatacak. ABD Silahlı Kuvvetleri bu operasyonu desteklemeyecek ya da bir parçası olmayacak. ‘Halifeliği’ yenen ABD güçleri artık bölgede bulunmayacak” açıklaması yapıldı.

Beyaz Saray açıklamasının ardından bu kez Erdoğan kuzey Suriye’ye operasyonun her an başlayabileceğini duyurdu.

Türkiye ve dünya kamuoyunun iki gündür tartıştığı Suriye operasyonu açıklamalarının ABD’de kamuoyunda nasıl karşılık bulduğu ve Trump’ın açıklamalarının arka planını Amerika’da yaşayan gazeteci Mutlu Civiroğlu bianet’e değerlendirdi.

Civiroğlu, Beyaz Saray’dan yapılan açıklamanın sadece Trump’ın kararı olduğunu ve Amerikan siyasetinin bütününün bir kararı olarak okunamayacağını söyledi.

“Amerikan Başkanı Trump ile Türkiye Başkanı Erdoğan’ın anlaştığı görülüyor” diyen Civiroğlu’nun değerlendirmeleri şöyle:

“Washington’ın Pentagon’un, Dışişleri Bakanlığı’nın ve Amerikan kamuoyunun anlamaya çalıştığı bir durum söz konusu. Ortada bir mutabakat olduğu konusunda kesin bir bilgi yok, çünkü bir karmaşıklık söz konusu. Erdoğan ile Trump arasındaki telefon görüşmesinin ardından bir açıklama yapılıyor.

“Kararı Amerikan yönetiminin üzerine çalışılmış ve anlaşarak aldığı bir karar olarak düşünmek yanıltıcı olur. Şunun altını çizmek gerekiyor: Bu karar, Trump’ın kararıdır. Amerikan hükümetinin kararı değildir. Daha önce Ağustos ayında yapılan güvenli bölge mutabakatı, Amerikan Hükümetinin uyguladığı bir siyasetti.

“Türkiye’nin tek taraflı adımlarını engellemek içindi”

“Güvenli bölge mutabakatı Amerikan Devletinin, Türkiye’nin tek taraflı adımını engellemek, Suriye’de istikrarsızlığı sebep olabilecek durumların önüne geçmek için bir çabasıydı. Ama Trump’ın yaptığı bu açıklama o çabaları boşa düşürdü. Çünkü Amerikan Hükümeti hem Pentagon hem Amerika’nın başını çektiği koalisyon, Suriye’de bir güvenlik mekanizması oluşturmak, Türkiye’nin tek taraflı adımlarının önüne geçmek ve ortak hareket etmek için uğraşıyordu. Ama dün (6 Ekim) geceki açıklama Amerikan Devleti’nin bu siyasetini bir nevi sonlandırmak anlamına geliyor.

“Amerika’nın yeşil ışık yaktığı yorumu yanıltıcı”

“Öte yandan Pentagon’un açıklamasında tek taraflı adımlardan kaçınılması gerektiği ifade ediliyor. Yani Amerikan yönetimi içinde bir bütünlük yok. Amerikan yönetiminin oluşturan kurumların hemfikir olmadığı çok rahatlıkla görülüyor. Bu nedenle kararı, Amerikan’ın yeşil ışık yakması olarak yorumlamak yanıltıcı olabilir. Zaten Amerikan medyası da ‘Trump’ın yeşil ışığı’, ‘Trump’ın Erdoğan ile anlaşması’ olarak yorumluyor. Yani hep Trump’ı ön plana çıkaran manşetler atılıyor.

“Çünkü Amerikan kamuoyunun büyük çoğunluğu; ABD Kongresi, Pentagon, Dışişleri Bakanlığı, Düşünce Kuruluşları bu kararın yanlış olduğunu ve Kürtlerin müttefikleri olduğu, büyük bedeller ödediği ve bölgesel güçlerin insafına bırakılmaması gerektiği konusunda hemfikirler. Ayrıca bu kararın sadece Türkiye’ye değil, İran ve Rusya’ya aynı zamanda IŞİD’e yaradığı hem Cumhuriyetçi Parti içerisinde, hem demokratlar tarafından dillendiriliyor.

“Kamuoyu Trump’ın kararından vazgeçmesini istiyor”

“Amerikan kamuoyu tepkili ve öfkeli, Trump’ın bu kararından vazgeçmesini istiyor. Hem Trump’a yakın kişiler hem de muhalefet hem Suriye ve Kürt konusu uzmanları, aynı zamanda ana akım medya, bu karardan vazgeçilmesi gerektiğini dile getiriyor. Amerikan Hükümeti, kamuoyu ve medyası bu karara karşı ve bunu değiştirmeye çalışıyor.

“Zaten Trump’ın ‘Türkiye sınırı aşarsa bunu kabul etmem’ yönündeki açıklaması da gelen tepkileri dindirmek için yaptığı açıklama olarak görülebilir. Kamuoyunda, kararın Amerikan diplomasisine, bürokrasisine, Pentagon’a danışılmadan alındığı ve Amerikan çıkarlarına hizmet etmediği, IŞİD’in geri dönüşüne zemin hazırlayabileceği için Trump’a kararına çok büyük bir tepki var.

“Trump müttefiklerine kızgın”

“Beyaz Saray açıklamasının ikinci bölümünde IŞİD’li tutuklulara vurgu yapılıyor. Trump, o açıklamasında müttefiklerine olan kızgınlığını ifade ediyor. Trump’ı iyi okuyanlar bu kararın biraz da müttefiklerini cezalandırmak, “Ne haliniz varsa görün” olarak okuyabiliyorlar. Fransa, Almanya ve diğer batılı müttefiklere bir kızgınlık var. “Siz sorumluğu almadınız, yük hep Amerika’nın üzerindeydi, alın bundan sonra yük sizin üzerinizde kalsın.” Burada Trump’ı bu şekilde Amerika’yı bir külfetten kurtardığını düşünüyor.

“IŞİD’lilerin tekrar eylemlere başlama riski var”

“Ulusal kamuoyu için büyük bir risk var. IŞİD’lilerin kaçması firar etmesi tekrar eylemlere başlaması gibi bir risk var. Bu operasyon çok ciddi sorunlar doğurabilir. Hava sahasının şu an için kapalı olduğu belirtiliyor. Fakat bunu varsayım üzerine söylüyoruz. Çünkü bu, hükümetin aldığı bir karar olmadığı için ortada net bir durum yok. Örneğin Pentagon, ‘Türkiye tek taraflı adım atmamalı, bunun sonuçları kötü olur’ diye uyarıda bulunuyor. Türkiye’yi bilgi paylaşımdan çıkarıyor.

“Afrin operasyonunda görüldüğü gibi hava saldırısı ve drone teknolojisi olmadan ilerlemek kolay olmayacak. Afrin gibi bir bölgede bile yaklaşık iki ay sürdü. Şu anda Demokratik Suriye Güçleri’nin kontrol ettiği bölge çok daha geniş, yani hava desteği olmadan Türkiye açısından çok zor olacaktır.” (RT)

https://m.bianet.org/bianet/siyaset/214122-civiroglu-trump-guvenli-bolge-mutabakatini-bosa-dusurdu

Kafkas Kürtlerinin sembol ismi, yazar ve Kürdolog Kerem Anqosi hayatını kaybetti

Kafkas Kürtlernin sembol isimlerinden aydın, yazar ve Kürdolog Kerem Anqosi Gürcistan’ın başkenti Tiflis’te yaşamını yitirdi.

Osmanlı dönemindeki katliamlardan kaçarak Gürcistan’a yerleşen Ezidi Kürt bir ailenin ferdi olarak 1937 yılında dünyaya gelen Anqosi, Kafkas Kürtlerinin önde gelen isimlerinden biri olarak tarihe geçti.

Ailesi ise Van’ın Seydibeg köyünden, Osmanlı katliamlarından kaçmıştı.

Gürcistan Üniversitesi Doğu Bilimleri Farsça Dili Bölümünden mezun olduktan sonra Kürt dili üzerine master yapan Anqosi, Türkiye’yi hiç görmedi ancak yine de Gürcistan’da ailesi ve çevresinin etkisiyle Kürt kültürü içinde bir yaşam sürdü.

Kürtçe ve Gürcüce çok sayıda eser kaleme alan Anqosi, Kürt kültürü, tarihi, dili ve gelenekleri konularında kafa yordu.

Şair olarak da eserler veren Anqosi, kimi eserlerinde Kürdistan hasreti ile ilgili şiirler kaleme aldı.

Kerem Anqosi başkent Tiflis’te Kürt kurumlaşmasının öncülüğünü yaparak, 1990’lı yıllarda Kürtçe yayın yapan Ronkayi Radyosu’nu kurdu. Kurduğu radyoda Kürt gençleri ve bizzat kendisi Kürtçe programlar hazırlayarak Kürt dili ve kültürünün eski Sovyetler Birliği’nde kaybolmamasında büyük emek harcadı.

Kerem Anqosi 2014 tarihinde Dünya TV’ye verdiği röportajında hayatından ve çalışmalarından bahsetmişti.

Gürcistan’da Kürtlerle Gürcü, Ermeni ve Azeri halkları arasında köprü olmayı başaran Anqosi, Gürcistan Gazeteciler Cemiyeti üyesiydi.

HDP Kürtçe hesabından da Enqosi’nin vefatı üzerine Kürtçe bir paylaşım yapıldı.

Kerem Anqosi’nin vefatını yorumlayan gazeteci Mutlu Çiviroğlu, “Kerem Anqosî Gürcistan’da Kürtlerin sembol ismiydi. Bu ülkedeki Kürtlerin yaptığı tüm çalışmalarda en ön safta yer almıştı. 1950’li yıllarda başlayan Kürt kültürü ve folklore çalışmalarında, ilk Kürtçe Rock müzik grubu olarak bilinen Koma Wetan’ın oluşumunda ve Tiflis’te uzun yıllardır yayın yapan Kürtçe radyonun kuruluşunda çok önemli hizmetleri olmuştu” dedi.

Çiviroğlu, Anqosi ile ilgili şunları söyledi:

“Anqosî yine Kürt gençlerinin anadilleri Kürtçe’yi iyi öğrenmeleri için dil üzerine çok çalışmalar yaptı, dil kursları açtı ve kitaplar yazdı. Anqosî  ayrica tüm Kürtler arasında çokça sevilen “Sîpan Sîpanê”, “Lêxin Birano Lêxin”, “Welatê Me Kurdistan”, “Ez Heyrana Dîtina Te Me Ey Welat” gini türkülerin de yazarıydı.

Sovyet Kürtleri arasında çok güçlü olan anavatan sevgisini hatayının sonuna kadar yüreğinde taşıyan Anqosî  bu sevgisini etrafındaki binlerce gence de aşılamıştır. Kendisiyle birkaç defa telefonda konuşmuştum. Çok sıcak, sevgi dolu ve samimi bir insandı ve onun aramızdan ayrılışı sadece Gürcistan Kürtleri için değil, malesef tüm Kürtler için büyük bir kaypı oldu ama arkasında bıraktıgı ülke ve halk sevgisi her zaman akıllarda ve yüreklerde kalacak. Kürtlerin bir sözü var: “Ga dimire çerm dimîne, mêr dimire nav dimîne” yani bir insan ölse bile arkada bıraktıklarıyla her zaman canlıdır.”

https://ahvalnews.com/tr/kurtler/kafkas-kurtlerinin-sembol-ismi-yazar-ve-kurdolog-kerem-anqosi-hayatini-kaybetti

Local Officials: IS Women in Syria’s al-Hol Camp Pose Security Risk

Citing an escalation of violence by Islamic State-affiliated women, supervisors at the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria are calling on the international community to find a solution for thousands of such women and children who are being held at the overcrowded refugee camp. VOA’s Mutlu Civiroglu reports from the al-Hol camp.

https://www.voanews.com/episode/local-officials-women-syrias-al-hol-camp-pose-security-risk-4047491

IS Foreign Women Smuggled Out in Northeastern Syria Camp

In this Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, photo, women who recently returned from Al-Hol camp, which holds families of Islamic State members, gather in the courtyard of their home in Raqqa, Syria, during an interview. The Kurdish-led administration has…FILE – Women who recently returned from the Al-Hol camp, which holds families of Islamic State members, gather in the courtyard of their home in Raqqa, Syria, during an interview, Sept. 7, 2019.

WASHINGTON – A group of intruders who disguised themselves as security forces protecting al-Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria have helped smuggle out several women affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) fighters, local authorities told VOA.

“Some smugglers put on SDF uniforms or security police outfits, and they helped some IS women escape the camp for money,” said Judy Serbilind, who monitors IS female affiliates detained at the overcrowded camp.

Serbilind refused to disclose the number of the escaped women but said there were dozens. She said most of them came from outside of Syria, particularly from Europe.

“We believe that they fled to Idlib then to Turkey. We think some of them might reach out to the embassies of their countries and some (will) stay in Turkey.”

Al-Hol is a makeshift encampment set up for those who were displaced during the war against IS in eastern Syrian province of Dir el-Zour. The camp’s population skyrocketed from about 10,000 refugees in December 2018 to over 70,000 by April 2019 following a U.S.-led operation that defeated IS from its last stronghold of Baghouz.

After several escape incidents, fearing a larger attempt by IS to infiltrate the camp, Kurdish-led security forces who guard the camp promptly increased their numbers around the area, Serbilind told VOA. To ease burden on the overloaded camp, management also released dozens of Syrian women with IS affiliation to their families and tribes provided that their families guarantee they will not go back to the militant group.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than 11,000 of people in the camp are foreign women and children related to IS.

Local Officials: IS Women in Syria’s al-Hol Camp Pose Security Risk

Daily Incidents

Syrian Kurdish officials in the past have said they were holding hundreds of foreign fighters in their prisons, along with thousands of their wives and children from 44 countries. The officials said they were overwhelmed by the burden and asked the countries to retake their nationals.

At al-Hol camp, officials say they are struggling to control order as reports of arguments, fights, stabbing and even murders are on the rise. Many of these issues go unresolved due to the lack of professional personnel and as camp officials prioritize more urgent needs such as food and water.

Last July, a pregnant Indonesian woman believed to be affiliated with IS was found dead in the camp. Local security forces said an autopsy showed the woman was murdered and her body showed signs of torture.

Serbilind said that the supervisors and security forces report the IS women as saying they want to re-establish an Islamic State inside the camp. She said large blades and knives were banned from entering the site. Nevertheless, two security officers were recently stabbed by IS affiliated women using kitchen knives.

“They are also threatening to revolt once Turkey carries out its threats of crossing the borders to Eastern Euphrates,” Serbilindadded, referring to Turkey’s announced intention to enter northeastern Syria to go after the Kurdish fighters if a “safe-zone” agreement with the U.S. is not implemented.

Ankara considers Kurdish YPG group a terrorist organization and an extension of the Turkish-based Kurdistan Workers Party. But Washington considers the YPG a key ally in the fight against IS and disagrees with Ankara on the linkage.

A Time Bomb

The desperate situation of al-Hol camp has long triggered international attention, with many aid organizations warning the site could be the birthplace of IS’s revenge generation.

UN-appointed Commission of Inquiry on Syria earlier this month reported that the situation in the camp was “appalling,” urging international community to take action. The investigators said most of the 3,500 children held there lacked birth registration and risked statelessness as their countries of origin were unwilling to repatriate them, fearing extremist links.

An IS propaganda video that circulated among the group’s social media users recently showed a group of women allegedly sending a message from the camp.   The black-veiled women vowed to revive the so-called caliphate which was announced defeated in March after losing its final stronghold of Baghouz.

“We ask that were you able to contain the Mujahideen’s women that you are keeping in your rot camp? We tell you no, they are now a ticking bomb,” one of the IS women is shown as saying in the video.

Some researchers believe that women themselves may not be able to actively participate in a possible resurgence of IS, but their extreme viewpoints could encourage sympathizers around the world and affect the future of their children.

“I think that the danger lies in their ability to ensure that the next generation are raised with really radical viewpoints,” said Mia Bloom, a professor of communications and Middle Eastern studies at Georgia State University.

“The danger is less from the women themselves than the women are able to perpetuate the conflict moving to the next new phase,” Bloom told VOA.

UN’s Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee in a report earlier this year warned that IS could morph from a territorial entity into a covert network. The report added that the terror group is “in a phase of transition, adaptation and consolidation, seeking to create the conditions for a resurgence.”

According to Bloom of Georgia State University, the threat of IS re-emergence will remain until the international community shows enough political will to deal with the root causes of extremism that originally led to the rise of the group.

“Until we address these underlying issues, there will always be recruitment opportunities for Jihadists and extremists who exploit that fact that the international community won’t do anything to halt the violence by corrupt regimes and restore justice for civilians,” Bloom concluded.

Nisan Ahmado, Mutlu Civiroglu

https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/foreign-women-smuggled-out-northeastern-syria-camp

Could Turkey use Syria safe zone to remake the area’s demographics?

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Turkey’s track record in Syria suggests it might use a U.S.-backed safe zone planned for Kurdish-majority northeastern Syria to fundamentally reshape the region’s demographic makeup, though Washington would likely stand in its way.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has for months threatened to launch a cross-border military operation to drive out the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the area, saying the Syrian Kurdish force is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast for more than three decades.

Turkey’s offensive into northeast Syria has so far been blocked by the United States, which armed, trained and backed the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), largely made up of YPG fighters, to help it defeat Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. But Turkey and the United States last week agreed to establish a joint operations centre to oversee a safe zone in Syria. Details of the deal have not been revealed, but most observers believe differences remain over safe zone size and which troops would patrol it.

Turkey’s previous cross-border offensives suggest the zone would be less than safe for many of its present, mainly Kurdish, inhabitants. After Turkey seized the northwestern Syrian Kurdish district of Afrin in early 2018, its Syrian militia proxies, the Free Syrian Army, looted houses in broad daylight.

Throughout the ongoing occupation, Turkey has done nothing to prevent documented human rights violations, including the displacement of more than 100,000 native Afrin Kurds.

Turkey also oversaw the resettlement of displaced Arabs from elsewhere in Syria in vacated Kurdish homes. It has even given them residence permits to stay in the region. By doing so, it is creating new demographic facts on the ground in a region that has historically been overwhelmingly Kurdish.

The main regions of Syrian Kurdistan are situated east of the River Euphrates. After the Aug. 7 preliminary agreement between Turkey and the United States to create a safe zone in that area, the U.S. embassy in Ankara said, “that the safe zone shall become a peace corridor, and every effort shall be made so that displaced Syrians can return to their country.”

“The term peace corridor refers to two different animals: for Turkey, it’s the total elimination of PKK cadres in northern Syria; for the U.S., it is a workable solution to make both Turkey and the YPG/PKK avoid clashing,” Mustafa Gürbüz, a non-resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington. “Unless a paradigm shift occurs on either side, it is impossible to have a long-term safe-zone agreement.”

Turkey frequently talks of its intention to send the majority of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees back to their homeland. This could mean resettling Syrian Arabs in Kurdish-majority areas, as it has done in Afrin, so as to destroy any contiguous Kurdish-majority region on Turkey’s border.

Turkey plans to resettle some 700,000 Syrian refugees in Kurdish-majority northeast Syria following the safe zone’s establishment. This is possibly part of a project to lessen the unpopular presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey and fundamentally change the demographics of northeast Syria in a similar fashion to the Syrian Baathist Arabisation drive of the 1960s and 1970s. That plan sought to repopulate Kurdish-majority areas on the Syrian border with Arabs to separate Syria’s Kurds from the Kurds of Turkey and Iraq, where Kurdish nationalism was on the rise.

The Syrian government planned to remove Kurds from a zone along the Syrian border with Turkey nine miles deep and 174 miles wide. It never fully materialised, though many Kurds were forcibly uprooted and their land resettled by some 4,000 Arab families.

Turkey may well see the safe zone as the first step to building a similar “Arab belt” along the border. The exact size and location of the safe zone is not yet clear. Turkey wants a 20-mile deep zone spanning the entire border while the United States has suggested a much smaller nine-mile deep zone. Turkey remains adamant that the zone should be no less than 20-miles deep and says it will launch a unilateral military operation if it does not get what it wants.

A zone that size would include all of Syrian Kurdistan’s major cities, many of which are close to the Turkish border, and would be unacceptable to the YPG and the multi-ethnic SDF umbrella force.

The United States may convince Turkey to instead settle for establishing the safe zone around the Arab-majority border town of Tel Abyad, where resettled Syrian Arab refugees may prove less contentious in Kurdish-majority areas.

“Kurds see Tel Abyad as a part of Syrian Kurdistan because it is one of the regions where the Arab belt project was implemented and the demographics there were changed decades ago,” said Mutlu Çiviroğlu, a Kurdish affairs analyst.

It is unclear whether the United State will be able to persuade Turkey to make significant concessions.

“The American team was convinced that Erdoğan was going to invade northern and eastern Syria,” said Nicholas Heras, Middle East security fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “There was an air of desperation from the American side during these talks that has not existed before.”

His party’s defeat in mayoral elections in Turkey’s biggest city and financial capital Istanbul shook the president, Heras said. Consequently, Erdoğan views the Syria issue “as a cornucopia that he can use to satisfy the Turkish body politic that he senses is turning against him”.

“The American team believed that Erdoğan was going to invade, push out the SDF from a large swathe of the border, and nearly simultaneously move refugees into the void,” Heras said. “What is really bothering the American side is a belief that there could still be a moment when U.S. and other coalition forces will need to fire on Turkish troops in order to protect the SDF.”

Heras said there had been a quiet war between the U.S. State Department that wanted to give the Turks more room to operate in SDF areas, and the U.S. military that was pushing back hard.

“Neither the Turks nor the Americans have agreed to much, except to keep talking,” he said. “But that is a win for both the U.S. military and the SDF, because the longer the Turks are kept at bay, the less likely Turkey can pull off an invasion.”

Heras doubted the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army would be able to operate in any safe zone, noting that they had “no protection whatsoever from coalition forces”.

“U.S.-led coalition forces in northern and eastern Syria have almost no trust for Turkey’s Syrian rebel proxies,” he said. “If they try to operate in SDF areas, they will be shot.”

Syrian Kurds believe Turkey uses its Syrian proxies in order to shield itself from charges of abuse, Çiviroğlu said. He said he doubted the United States would permit Turkey to alter the demographics of northeast Syria.

“I don’t think the U.S. will accept this because this is against international law and it doesn’t solve any problems,” he said. “Also ethically, the U.S. will not accept such a thing in my view because these are the people that have been fighting side-by-side with the U.S. against ISIS.”

Paul Iddon

https://ahvalnews.com/syrian-war/could-turkey-use-syria-safe-zone-remake-areas-demographics

Feuding Syrian Kurdish political blocs dance around rapprochement

As French and US initiatives for intra-Kurdish rapprochement in Syria stall, it seems that piecemeal defections from the Kurdish National Council to the Kurdish autonomous administration in the north of the country are the rule of the day.

al-monitor An officer of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) stands guard near the Syrian-Iraq border, Oct. 31, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani.

 

France and the United States are encouraging a rapprochement between Syria’s two feuding Kurdish political blocs, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council, which is an official part of the Syrian opposition in exile known as the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.

A Kurdish detente could serve as an early step toward incorporating parts of the opposition into the PYD-led autonomous administration of northeast Syria. In turn, wider opposition participation could help the autonomous administration gain a seat at negotiations to end the civil war, as well as win local and international recognition now that the main reason for the autonomous administration’s foreign support — the territorial fight against the Islamic State (IS) — has ended.

But the prospect of Kurdish rapprochement in Syria faces an uphill battle. Turkey wields influence over the Kurdish National Council and opposes the move; meanwhile, both Kurdish factions have unrealistic demands for a deal. Rather than an agreement at the organizational level, the most likely path forward for Syrian Kurdish cooperation involves disaffected council groups breaking off piecemeal to join the PYD-led autonomous administration, as they have done in the past.

The PYD and the council are at odds over the PYD’s nonconfrontational stance toward Damascus, the council’s proximity to the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition and each faction’s connection to rival Kurdish regional powers. Negotiations between the two sides to unite failed early in the civil war over power-sharing disputes. Since then, the council’s parties have refused to apply for licenses to participate in the autonomous administration, a fact the PYD has used to repress the council’s political activity.

Turkey opposes a Syrian Kurdish detente, as well as any step that might legitimize the presence of the PYD in northeast Syria. Ankara considers the PYD to be a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long insurgency against Turkey. Turkey’s peace process with the PKK collapsed in 2015, and despite hopeful indications this spring, it will likely remain that way as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks to divert attention from recent political setbacks. In July, Turkey launched a new phase of its military campaign against the PKK in Iraq and once again threatened to invade PYD-led northeast Syria.

Mutlu Civiroglu, a journalist who specializes in Kurdish affairs in Syria and Turkey, told Al-Monitor that following the blow Erdogan received in local elections this year, “he needs something to consolidate, to bring back his support, the morale of his base.” Civiroglu added, “National security is beyond sacred for many Turkish politicians. When the issue is national security, they all keep silent, they all support the government.”

Turkish opposition is not the only hurdle to Syrian Kurdish rapprochement. While both Kurdish parties endorsed the detente proposal, their key demands seem to preclude a deal. Top PYD officials have stipulated that for talks to move forward, the Kurdish National Council must leave the Syrian National Coalition, which would strip the council of its political relevance as the only internationally recognized Syrian Kurdish opposition group, as well as disrupt the lives of council members living in Turkey.

“There’s no talk within this [detente] initiative, nor any direction within this initiative, toward withdrawing from the Syrian National Coalition or dealing negatively with it,” Hawwas Khalil Saadun, a council representative and member of the Syrian National Council, told Al-Monitor.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish National Council has called on the Rojava Peshmerga, its military wing based in Iraqi Kurdistan, to enter northern Syria to ensure the terms of an agreement with the PYD are implemented. The PYD will “never” accept this, Mohammed Abdulsattar Ibrahim, a Syrian Kurdish journalist with Syria Direct, told Al-Monitor. PYD officials maintain that “if there are two Kurdish forces on the ground, they will fight with each other, as happened between [Massoud] Barzani and [Jalal] Talabani from 1994-1998 [in Iraq]. That’s very possible,” Ibrahim said.

While the Kurdish National Council and the PYD are unlikely to strike a deal, wider Kurdish participation in the autonomous administration is possible — via council parties breaking off piecemeal and joining the administration.

Some council members have long disagreed with their organization’s closeness to the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition. One sticking point was Turkey’s resistance to the 2017 Kurdish independence referendum championed by Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iraq; he helped found the council and enjoys good relations with Ankara. Then came the rebel invasion of the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin in January 2018. Turkish-backed Syrian opposition groups committed widespread human rights violations against Kurds, and resettled Arabs evacuated from the suburbs of Damascus — who survived years of strangling siege imposed by the Syrian government — in houses abandoned by Kurdish residents. The council condemned the assault on Afrin when it occurred, but ultimately remained within the Syrian opposition.

“What happened in Afrin horrified people, including [Kurdish National Council] people in Kobani, Jazeera and other parts. They are very much afraid the ongoing atrocities in Afrin will recur in other Kurdish regions,” said Civiroglu.

Internal tensions caused by the council’s closeness to the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition, in addition to routine conflicts over power and positions, have resulted in several defections over to the autonomous administration. Certain council politicians imply that the defectors are PYD plants.

In 2016, three parties previously expelled from the council formed the Kurdish National Alliance, which went on to participate in formal autonomous administration elections. Two years later, prompted by Turkey’s assault on Afrin, the president of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria split from the council and established a new party that now works alongside the PYD. Thirty more colleagues from the Kurdish Future Movement followed suit soon after.

The specter of future defections looms large as long as the PYD is the dominant Kurdish power in Syria. Ibrahim said that when the council “used to call for a protest or demonstration, thousands of people came. Now, a few people attend.” He added, “When the [council] parties defect, it’s for their own interests — they want to have a role.”

In June 2019, one of the council’s oldest factions, known as the Yekiti Party in Syria, expelled three leaders primarily because of a power dispute, said Ivan Hassib, a local Kurdish journalist who covers internal council dynamics. These leaders, who went on to form a new party, have not expressed a desire to work under the autonomous administration, as their “popular base is Barzani’s people. … Today, if the party that defected directly joined the PYD, that’s like suicide,” Hassib told Al-Monitor.

Nevertheless, he added that two of the three ousted politicians were accused by former colleagues of connections to the PYD. They might remain independent, or join the autonomous administration sometime in the future.

For its part, the PYD encourages Kurdish (and Arab) opposition parties to participate in the autonomous administration system that it leads, if they register, and provides a degree of freedom to criticize policy while maintaining control over the most important decisions. The more opposition parties join the administration, the more they dilute the presence of leaders connected to the PKK, and the closer the administration appears to its ideological premise as a decentralized, democratic system. Movement in this direction reduces the chance of a Turkish invasion and increases the chance of continued Western support.

“The entire [autonomous] administration wants to unify the Syrian opposition,” said Khabat Shakir, a PYD representative in Germany.

Pending a major shift in northeast Syria — such as US President Donald Trump pulling out US troops in advance of the 2020 presidential elections, and/or a Turkish invasion — piecemeal defections from the Kurdish National Council to the autonomous administration are the most likely form of Kurdish rapprochement currently available.

Dan Wilkofsky

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/08/syria-kurdish-national-council-defections-rapprochement.ac.html

Turkish army pull out will bring peace to Northern Syria

The Turkish troops constantly harass the local, and the only way to return peace and stability is to transfer the land under control of the Syrian government.

Firas Samuri

Why Turkey is building a wall around Syria’s Afrin

Last month, Turkey quietly began building a wall around the northeastern Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, which it has occupied since early 2018. Amid increased attacks on its soldiers and Syrian militiamen proxies in the enclave, one purpose of the wall is to provide additional security.

Yet there are fears the wall could be a major step by Turkey to annex Afrin and prevent the return of the tens of thousands of Kurds who had to leave their homes there as a result of the Turkish invasion.

“Sources on the ground in Afrin see this as another step of Turkey’s annexation of Afrin into its own borders,” said Mutlu Çiviroğlu, a Syria and Kurdish affairs analyst. “Since last year Afrin has been controlled by Turkey and its Syrian proxies. The civilian affairs are run by Turkey’s Hatay Governorate.”

Çiviroğlu also pointed out that the wall cuts Afrin off from the rest of Syria, in particular areas around the nearby city of Tal Rifaat, where well over 100,000 of Afrin’s displaced are currently living. This may indicate that one of Turkey’s primary aims is to prevent these Kurds from returning and reclaiming their homes.

“Locals are worried that this wall is another step by Turkey to annex Afrin,” he said. “At the same time they expect the Syrian government to give a tougher reaction, but so far we haven’t seen that.”

Çiviroğlu also pointed out that “some other sources say that this wall is designed to prevent the increased number of Afrin Liberation Forces (HRE) attacks, which have recently afflicted serious losses on Turkish soldiers and Turkish-backed forces in Afrin.”

The HRE – the Afrin branch of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) – has targeted Turkish troops and Turkish-backed forces in both Afrin and the town of Azaz, which is part of the Syrian territories Turkey captured from Islamic State (ISIS) in its 2016-17 Euphrates Shield operation. Ankara invariably responds to these attacks by firing artillery at alleged HRE targets in the Tal Rifaat area.

Professor Joshua Landis, head of the Middle East Studies Department at the University of Oklahoma, said Turkey’s wall serves several purposes.

“The cement wall around Afrin represents a visual reminder of Turkish control,” he said. “It is meant to indicate to both inhabitants of Afrin and the world that the border is permanent; Ankara is serious about staying in north Syria. On a more practical level, the wall provides security against insurgents and those who seek to return Afrin to Kurdish control and expel the Turks and Arab militias.”

Notably, the Syrian and Russian governments have not severely criticised Turkey for this action, indicating there is some acquiescence on their part.

“There is a perception among the Syrian Kurds, activists and journalists, that Russia is trying to appease Turkey on this matter so the deal to sell Ankara S-400 missiles is finalised and Moscow gets what it wants in Syria’s Idlib province,” said Çiviroğlu.

At an April 29 press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was unaware of the project.

“To be honest, I have never heard anything about a wall around Afrin,” he said. “But I proceed from the fact that the Turkish leadership was adamant in confirming a number of times that Turkey’s anti-terrorist activities in Syrian territory are temporary.”

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad recently reaffirmed Damascus’s opposition to Turkey’s military presence in Syria and reiterated the government’s determination “to liberate every inch of Syrian territory”, but did not mention the new wall in Afrin.

“The Syrian and Russian governments have been silent about this latest Turkish provocation because they are busy pushing north from Hama against HTS and Turkish control in the Idlib enclave,” Landis said, referring to the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which controls parts of the northern Syrian province.

He pointed out that there have been suggestions “that Turkey and Russia have come to an agreement in which Turkey will be allowed to extend its control over the north Aleppo in exchange for Syria extending its control over Idlib.”

“While the Turks push south against the Kurds, the Syrians will push north against Arab rebels,” said Landis.

Landis concluded by pointing out that there is some possibility that Damascus “may also be reluctant to stand up for the Kurds in north Aleppo province as a form of revenge against the Kurds of Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] who have asked for a permanent American presence in northeast Syria.”

Güney Yıldız, a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, thinks the walls main purpose has more to do with security than any long-term Turkish plan to annex the enclave or permanently alter its demographics.

“I think the primary purpose of the wall is to prevent the ongoing YPG – or HRE as the YPG in Afrin calls them – attacks in Afrin,” Yıldız said. “The attacks have increased in the last few weeks and Kurdish officials indicate that they will intensify their attacks during the summer.”

“Cementing demographic changes or annexing Afrin to the Turkish territory doesn’t necessarily require constructing a wall,” he said. “Having said that, I believe that Afrin will be the last place Turkey will withdraw from in Syria.”

Yıldız noted that Turkish officials value the country’s continued occupation of Afrin more than its occupation of the other, much larger, northwestern territories Turkey captured from the Islamic State in the aforementioned Euphrates Shield operation.

“For Turkish officials, agreeing to give back Al-Bab, Jarablus or Azaz or working with Russia to return Idlib back to the regime control is more preferable than ceding control in Afrin,” Yıldız said. “Turkey wants to keep the Kurds as far away from the Mediterranean as possible.”

https://ahvalnews.com/syrian-war/why-turkey-building-wall-around-syrias-afrin