Syrian Democratic Forces (North Press)
(North Press) – The Kurdish National Congress of North America (KNCNA), a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 focused on Kurdish rights and the attainment of an independent Kurdistan, held an online seminar on North and East Syria titled “Where’s Rojava Today?” on Saturday. The seminar’s panelists included Syrian Democratic Council Representative to the US Sinam Muhammad, Middle East Scholar Dr. Amy Austin Holmes, Rojava Activist and KNCNA Member Dr. Ihsan Efrini, and Kurdish Journalist and Analyst Mutlu Civiroglu.
The organization has been organizing conferences since 1988, and wanted to organize a conference in Washington, but “because of [coronavirus], we couldn’t go ahead, therefore we thought about a webinar,” Ihsan Efrini, a native of Afrin currently residing in Canada, told North Press. “In 2019, Rojava was trending, but it seems like people have forgotten the region. There is still a lot happening in the region that needs to be talked about,” he added about the need for such a conference to take place.
Sinam Muhammad opened the discussion by talking about the dissolution of the Syrian opposition and the invasion and occupation of her native Afrin. “Afrin was a painful moment not only for Afrinis, but for all people in Syria, and also Arabs. They felt that they were also under attack and worried about Turkish intervention in Syria, and this is what Turkey did [in Sere Kaniye and Tel Abyad].” Muhammad went on to discuss the completion of the first stage of the intra-Kurdish dialogue, stating, “It was so good that we reached an agreement together with the help of the United States, and I would like to thank Mr. William Roebuck this effort.” She added, “it is good for Kurdish parties to have unity…in order to have a stronger administration and stronger political solution to present to the future constitutional committee of Syria.”
Dr. Amy Holmes discussed several subjects, chief among them the unity of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as one of its key characteristics from which it draws its strength. “The SDF is a multi-ethnic force…and a multi-religious force, with Muslims, Christians, and Yezidis,” said Dr. Holmes, who previously completed a thorough and comprehensive study on the SDF in all regions of northeastern Syria.
“When Turkey invaded in October 2019…many people thought that the SDF would disintegrate, or that, for example, the Arabs in the SDF would defect – that they would go back to the regime with Assad, or that they would join Turkey…but really, nothing like that happened. There [were] no major defections within the SDF as the result of the Turkish intervention,” Holmes explained, later telling a personal anecdote about an Arab individual from Sere Kaniye who joined the SDF in 2015, as well as mentioning Kurds who joined the SDF to liberate Arab-majority areas such as Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. “The SDF has maintained its unity even in the face of this Turkish aggression,” she continued.
Mutlu Civiroglu further commented on the talks, saying that “the initiative has brought a very optimistic atmosphere to the region…[it] has caused happiness among the people: activists, local people, military people, and politicians.” Civiroglu also mentioned local concern about the Caesar Act, saying “the other major topic in the region was the Caesar Act, and its impacts on the region under the Syrian Democratic Council or Syrian Democratic Forces’ control – how will the region be protected?”
The seminar lasted around an hour and a half, with each panelist sharing their views and answering viewer’s questions in the end. Many topics, including the intra-Kurdish negotiations, entry of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq-based Rojava Peshmerga into Rojava, the Turkish occupations of Afrin, Serekaniye, and Tel Abyad, and the efforts and unity of the Syrian Democratic Forces, were discussed during the meeting.
Reporting by Lucas Chapman
Türkiye’nin Suriye’nin kuzeyine yönelik askerî harekâtının beşinci gününde Suriye ordusunun ana omurgasını YPG’nin oluşturduğu Suriye Demokratik Güçleri (SDG) ile anlaştığı öğrenildi. Bu anlaşma kapsamında Suriye ordusunun Menbiç’e girdiği duyuruldu. Suriye ordusunun bu gece de Kobani’ye gireceği belirtiliyor.
Menbiç yerel kaynakları Suriye ordusunun çeşitli bölgelerden kente doğru ilerlemeye başladığını aktarıyor.
Menbiç’e giren Suriye ordusundan ilk görüntüler geldi.
Ve Suriye Ordusu Menbiç’e girer
— Hayrizng (@hayrizng) October 13, 2019
Fırat Bölgesi Savunma Komitesi Eşbaşkanı İsmet Şêx Hesen de Kuzey ve Doğu Suriye Özerk Yönetimi’nin Suriye rejimi ile anlaştığını açıkladı. Hesen “Rusya ve Suriye rejimiyle anlaştık. Bugün akşama kadar gelmeleri gerekiyor” dedi.
Mezopotamya Ajansı‘nın haberine göre Hesen “Elimizden geleni yapıyoruz. Bütün devletlere çağrıda bulunduk; ancak bir şey yapmadılar. Kendi derdimize derman olacağız. Yaralarımızı kendimiz saracağız” diye konuştu.
Gazeteci Mutlu Çiviroğlu da Kuzey ve Doğu Suriye Özerk Yönetimi’nin Şam yönetimi ile SDG’nin Suriye sınırını birlikte koruması konusunda anlaşmaya vardığını yazdı. Çiviroğlu, anlaşmanın Afrin de dahil tüm bölgelerin özgürlüğüne kavuşturulmasını da içerdiğini belirtti.
North Press Agency’nin haberine göre Suriye rejiminin Fırat Bölgesi Başkan Yardımcısı Mohammed Shaheen, SDG ile anlaşan Suriye ordusunun bugün Kobani bölgesine girmeye hazırlandığını duyurdu.
Kobani’deki SDG yetkilisi, Suriye hükümetiyle birkaç saat içinde Kobani’ye girmek için bir anlaşma yaptıklarını söyledi.
Gazeteci Aylina Kılıç da bölgedeki bazı yerel kaynakların SDG ile anlaştığını ve Suriye ordusunun Kobani’ye gireceğini bildirdiğini yazdı. Kılıç, “Aynı zamanda Minbiç için de bu yönde bir anlaşma olduğu belirtiliyor. Dün akşam ABD ile Rusya’nın Minbiç’te görüştüğü iddia edilmişti” dedi.
Kılıç anlaşamaya Rusya’nın dahil olduğuna dair haberlerin bulunduğunu belirtti.
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.
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.
Authorities 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.
A 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.
Although defeated on the battlefield, ISIS will continue to be a threat to stability in Syria, SDF commander-in-chief General Mazlum Kobane writes
YPJ fighters screen women and children from ISIS-held camps in Baghuz, Syria. Image: Mutlu Civiroglu
The final chapter of Islamic State has been completed successfully with the liberation of the town of Baghuz from the terrorist organization. After civilians were evacuated and hundreds of extremists surrendered, the Syrian Democratic Forces, with the participation of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, put up a strong fight against the last remnants of the terrorist organization and declared to the world the destruction of the so-called caliphate.
There is no doubt that the elimination of the terrorist organization’s territory was the result of great efforts and sacrifice by SDF forces and the Coalition. High-level coordination between the parties and their strong ties will soon bring an end to the nightmare that has enveloped the entire world and turned the region into a terrorist epicenter.
Rojda Felat, who commanded the battle against ISIS in Raqqa, surveys a flank of Tal al-Samam with other SDF commanders. Image: ©Joey L./JoeyL.com/Used with permission
The joint decisions made by the SDF and Coalition forces made the liberation of city after city possible while civilian casualties were avoided by employing precise and controlled military tactics.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to leave some U.S. forces in Syria is very crucial for the next phase of the fight against ISIS, which involves uprooting its intellectual and ideological roots, requiring continuous and long-term work.
American political and military leadership, as well as members of the U.S. Congress, agree that the threat ISIS poses is far from being completely eliminated. By keeping U.S. forces in the region and rearranging the American strategy, the next phase of the fight against terror will help the SDF to preserve the gains made so far.
General Mazlum Kobane, Commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces discusses plans to liberate the final ISIS pockets in eastern Syria with US Army Lieutenant Gen. Paul E. Funk, then Commander of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, during a meeting near Ayn Issa, Syria, August 21, 2018. Image: US Army/Staff Sgt. Brigitte Morgan
We want to emphasize the role of the U.S. Department of Defense, and especially the commander of CENTCOM General Joseph Votel, in the territorial victory against ISIS and for ensuring security and stability in the areas liberated from the darkness. We thank him for his leadership and the important role he played in this historic achievement.
Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, alongside U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James B. Jarrard, Commanding General of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve during a visit to Raqqa, Syria in 2018. Image: Sgt. Brigitte Morgan/US Army
We also want to acknowledge important role of the former Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk in this victory, and thank him for bringing together different nations under the international Coalition and building a bridge between them and the SDF.
Though the structure of ISIS will come to an end, we also want to draw attention to some major challenges that are ahead of us: sleeper cells planted by the terrorist organization, and the danger in ISIS’s ability to reorganize itself by employing tactics of individual terrorist acts such as bombings and assassinations.
In addition, the vacuum of power left after ISIS and the partial withdrawal of U.S. forces will be undoubtedly be exploited by regional and international parties.
There is also a growing need to restore cohesion of the community and to reorganize and return people to their communities. The areas the terrorists occupied have been turned into ruins and must be revived. This revitalization will require continued support and rehabilitation at all levels so that citizens can return to their normal lives.
In accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations, the continued cooperation between the SDF and the international Coalition to counter ISIS, led by the United States of America, will contribute to the end of the Syrian crisis. The social component and diversity of our free areas constitutes the first point toward the ultimate goal of a democratic Syria, free from all forms of terrorism.
General Mazlum Abdi is the Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces.
All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of The Defense Post.
DAİŞ’in köle olarak alıkoyduğu Êzîdî çocukları bir bir kurtarılıp ailelerine teslim ediliyor. Ednan, Kînan, Walîd kurtarılan çocuklardan sadece üçü. Kînan, özgürlüğe takım elbise ve kravatla adım atarken, Ednan QSD’nin DAİŞ’ten kurtardığı annesiyle buluşacağı günü iple çekiyor.
Babası Şengal Katliamı’nda katledilen Kînan, annesi ile birlikte DAİŞ çetelerince köle olarak kaçırıldı. Ancak annesi bir patlamada yaşamını yitirdi. Ebû Saed isimli DAİŞ çetesinin İdlib’e kadar kaçırıp 30 bin dolar karşılığı amcasına teslim ettiği Kînan, gazetecilerin karşısına takım elbise ve kravatla çıkıyor ve ekliyor: “Özgürlüğümün ilk günlerinde yakışıklı görünmek istedim.”
DAİŞ çetelerinin kıstırıldığı son toprak parçası Baxoz’da, 3 Ağustos 2014’teki Şengal Katliamı tekrar gündeme getiren gelişmeler yaşanıyor. Kaçırılan Êzîdî kadınlar ve köleleştirilen çocukların trajik öyküleri çıkıyor karşımıza.
Ednan, Kînan, Walîd… Üç çocuğun da babası katledilmiş ve anneleriyle kaçırılmış. Kînan ve Walîd’in anneleri ise DAİŞ’in kontrolündeki bölgelerde yaşanan patlamalarda hayatını kaybetmiş.
Ednan onlara göre biraz daha şanslı, bir süre önce annesi de QSD savaşçıları tarafından özgürleştirilmiş ve şimdi bir birlerine kavuşacakları anı sabırsızlıkla bekliyorlar.
Ednan annesine kavuşuyor
Gazeteci Mutlu Çiviroğlu önceki gün Twitter hesabından DAİŞ tarafından kaçırılan ve QSD savaşçılarınca kurtarılan Êzîdî bir çocuğun görüntülerini paylaşarak, söz çocuğun ailesine bir an önce kavuşmasını umduğunu söyledi.
Aynı gün akşam saatlerinde Êzîdîlere ait Ezidipress internet sitesi DAİŞ’in elinden kurtarılan çocuğun annesine kavuştuğunu duyurdu.
Çiviroğlu paylaştığı görüntüde çocuğun ismini sorması üzerine, “Benim adım Ednan” diyor. Ezidipress yetkilileri de çocuğun annesine ulaşarak oğlunun kurtarıldığının haberini veriyor. Haberi duyan anne mutluluk gözyaşları döküyor. Ezidipress Ednan’ın annesinin, QSD savaşçıları ile Mutlu Çiviroğlu’na teşekkür ettiğine de yer verdi.
DAİŞ çeteleri 3 Ağustos 2014 Şengal’de Êzîdî Kürtlere yönelik gerçekleştirdikleri soykırım saldırısında Ednan’ın babasını katletti. Çeteler, annesi ve kendisini de köle olarak götürdü. Annesinin de bir süre önce DAİŞ’ten kurtarıldığı belirtiliyor.
DAİŞ’in köle olarak kaçırdığı Êzîdî çocuğu Kînan, “Çok ölü gördüm, katledilen çok insan gördüm” diyor.
Kînan ömrünün tam yarısını DAİŞ’in zorbalığının altında geçirmiş. Bir süre önce QSD savaşçılarınca kurtarılmış. Fransız radyo kanalı France İnfo’nun haberine göre, Ebû Sead isimli DAİŞ çetesi sivillerin arasında küçük Kînan’i de yanına alarak Baxoz’dan kaçarak İdlib’e gitmiş. Şengal Katliamı’nda Kînan’ın babası da katledilenler arasında. DAİŞ’in yanında yaşadığı kabusu ise Kînan, “Ben çok ölü gördüm, DAİŞ’lilerin eliyle katledilen insanlar… Bizi çok dövüyorlardı. Babamı haksız yere öldürdüler” şeklinde bir çırpıda özetliyor.
Şık bir şekilde radyo muhabirleriyle görüşmesi, dikkat çekmiş.
Bir iki boy büyük de olsa takım elbise giymiş ve kravat takmış. Şık giyinmeyi de “Özgürlüğümün ilk günlerinde yakışıklı görünmek istedim” sözleriyle ifade ediyor.
Büyük ablasını DAİŞ’liler tarafından satılmış. Annesi ise Baxoz’da yaşanan bir patlamada yaşamanı yitirmiş. Küçük Kînan annesinin ölümünden sonra Ebû Saed’in kendisini, hiç bir sebep yokken de dövmeye başladığını söylüyor.
DAİŞ çeteleri Kürtçeyi yasakladıkları için Kînan da bir çok Êzîdî çocuğu gibi 5 yıl içerisinde ana dilini tamamen unutmuş.
Baxoz, QSD savaşçılarınca kuşatmaya alındığı süreçte Ebû Saed İd lib’e kaçmaya karar vermiş. Kînan’ın amcası Ebû Saed’e ulaşarak Kînan’i almaya çalışmış. Ebû Saed amcasından aldığı 30 bin dolar karşılığı Kînan’ı bırakıyor, O da 5 gün sonra Güney Kürdistan’daki amcasına ulaşıyor.
Walid de kurtarıldı
France İnfo muhaberleri göre Kînan ve amcası ile görüşürken, amcasının telefonuna bir mesaj ile fotoğraf düşüyor. QSD savaşçıları 9 yaşında bir çocuğu kurtarmış. Adı Walid ancak DAİŞ çeteleri ona Ebdul Haman ismini vermiş.
Onun da babası DAİŞ çetelerince katledilmiş ve onun da annesi Kînan’ın annesi gibi bir patlamada ölmüş. Şimdi Walid de kurtarılan ve annesine kavuşma anını iple çeken Ednan gibi emin ellerde ve özgür…
Baxoz’da 6’sı çocuk 8 Êzîdî kurtarıldı
Demokratik Suriye Güçleri (QSD), DAİŞ çetelerine karşı final savaşının yürütüldüğü Baxoz’da 6’sı çocuk olmak üzere 8 Êzîdî’yi daha kurtardı. Alınan bilgilere göre, QSD savaşçıları Baxoz’daki operasyon sırasında 8 Êzîdî’yi daha kurtararak güvenli alanlara ulaştırdı. Kurtarılanlar 6 çocuk ve 2 kadından oluşuyor. Operasyonda kurtarılan kadınların, T. S. ve E. M. olduğu öğrenilirken, çocukların isimleri ise şöyle: Eymen Xelil Heci, Dilbirîn Celer, Xeyri Şeref, Musa Hadi, Ayşe, İbrahim.
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.”
Washington’da yaşayan gazeteci/analist Mutlu Çiviroğlu, ABD Ulusal Güvenlik Danışmanı Bolton’ın Ankara ziyaretini ve ABD’de Trump’ın çekilme kararı sonrası yaşanan istifaları bianet’e yorumladı.
Washington’da yaşayan gazeteci/analist Mutlu Çiviroğlu, Trump’un ABD askerlerini Suriye’den çekme kararının ardından yaşananları, Beyaz Saray Ulusal Güvenlik Danışmanı John Bolton’ın İsrail sonrası Türkiye ziyareti öncesi yaptığı açıklamaları yorumladı.
Çiviroğlu, Erdoğan’ın Bolton’ı kabul etmemesi ve Bolton’ın Türkiye’den ayrılması üzerine röportajdan bir gün sonra bize ilettiği ek görüşte ise bunun “ABD-Türkiye arasındaki sorunların derinliğini gösterdiğini” söyledi.
Çiviroğlu, Trump’ın çekilme kararının ABD’nin kutuplaşmış ortamında tüm taraflardan tepki aldığını söylerken, ABD Genelkurmay Başkanı General Joseph Dunford ve Bolton’ın Türkiye ziyaretinde öncelikli olarak Kürtlerin konuşulacağını vurguladı. Çiviroğlu’na göre ABD ile Türkiye arasındaki ilişkiler, görünenden derin sorunlar barındırıyor.
Rusya ise Kürtlerin statüsüyle ilgili Suriye yönetimini ikna etme aşamasında.
Bolton’ın Türkiye ziyaretini nasıl değerlendiriyorsunuz? Ziyaret öncesi İsrail’de Kürtlerle ilgili uyarıda bulunacağını söyledi. ABD benzeri yönde başka söylemlerde de bulundu, bunlar mı görüşülüyor şu anda?
Bolton’ın Türkiye ziyareti, İsrail’den Türkiye’ye geçmesi önemli. Trump’ın üç hafta önce aniden aldığı Suriye’den çekilme kararının takip edilmesi, görüşülmesi açısından önemli öncelikle.
Çünkü o kararın yankıları hala sürüyor, hem ABD kamuoyunda, hem Trump yönetimi içerisinde, hem kongrede, hem senatoda, think tank’lerde yarattığı tartışma süregeliyor.
Trump’ın Erdoğan ile yaptığı telefon görüşmesinde bir bakıma IŞİD ile savaşı Türkiye’ye havale etme niyetiyle bu kararı almış olabileceği ABD basınında sıkça dile getirildi.
Bolton’ın ziyareti bu telefon görüşmesinde tartışılan konuların daha somut bir şekilde tartışılması hem de Türkiye’nin olası rolünün, rolü olursa nasıl olacağının konuşulması bakımından önemli.
“ABD’deki tüm kutuplar çekilme kararını eleştiriyor”
Ama en önemli konu Kürtler’e bakış açısı. Amerikan kamuoyunda çok büyük bir rahatsızlık var. Trump’ın kararının askerlere danışılmadan aldığı, Kürtler’i yüz üstü bıraktığı, Kürtlerin ABD’nin müttefiki olduğu, kimsenin ortaya çıkmadığı bir dönemde IŞİD ile savaştıkları hem Demokratlar hem Cumhuriyetçiler tarafından dile getiriliyor.
ABD gibi kutuplu bir toplumda her iki kesim de bu eleştirileri getiriyor.
Özellikle Trump’a getirilen eleştiri Kürtler üzerinden yoğunlaşmakta. Cumhuriyetçi Senatör Marco Rubio’nun “Bu karar yeni yetişmekte oluşan Kürt gençleri ABD’ye karşı nefretle dolduracaktır. Bizim yaptığımız Kürtler’e ihanettir” gibi bir açıklama yaptı.
Senatör Lindsey Graham’ın başını çektiği grup, Demokratlar da var içinde, genel olarak kamuoyu bu ani çekilme kararının Kürtler’i Erdoğan’a karşı çok savunmasız bırakacağını düşünüyor.
Türkiye’nin operasyonuyla karşı karşıya bırakmanın savunulamaz olduğu düşünülüyor.
Geçenlerde John Kirby (Pentagon Eski Sözcüsü) CNN’e yaptığı açıklamada, Türkiye’nin Afrin’deki insan hakları ihlallerine vurgu yaparak aynısının olabileceğini ifade etmişti.
ABD’deki bu hassasiyetle ilgili konuşulması, Türkiye’nin Kürtler’e, Kürtler’in kontrolündeki bölgelere karşı herhangi bir operasyon yapmaması gerektiği vurgulanabilir bu buluşmada.
Pompeo da geçenlerde “Kürtlerin katledilmesinin önüne geçilmeli” gibi güçlü bir kelime kullandı. Pompeo ve Bolton hükümet içerisinde İran karşıtı, Türkiye’ye karşı sert tutumları olan isimler.
Bolton’ın asıl amacı Kürtler konusunda ABD’nin hassasiyetini göstermek. ABD hükümetine dayatılan, bu çekilme kararının yaratacağı olası sonuçların iletilmesi konusunda önemli.
Bolton’dan önce de Graham gibi TRump’a yakın isimler bu çekilmenin zamana yayılacağı konusunda ipucu vermekteler.
O nedenle ABD’nin bu konuda ısrarcı olacağını söylemek pek de hayalci olmaz.
“Çekilme konusu bulanık”
Çekilme konusu giderek bulanıklaşmaya başladı, ya da öyle mi yansıtılıyor? Çekilme kararı sonrası inisiyatif Türkiye’ye ne kadar kalır? Bugün Trump’ın “Türkiye bizim kadar olmasa da IŞİD’den nefret ediyor” şeklinde bir başka ‘tuhaf’ açıklaması da oldu?
Çekilme konusu tabii bulanık. Trump kamuoyunda her aklına geleni söylemesiyle tanınan bir başkan. Kendi muhalifleri bunu “Refleksle hareket eden bir başkan” olarak isimlendirip, tepki gösteriyorlar.
Zaten Mattis’in, McGurk ve Sweney’in istifaları bu kararın hükümetin kararı olmadığını, bireysel bir karar olduğunu ortaya koyuyor. Üç haftalık süreç içerisinde bu daha iyi görüldü.
Trump’ın etrafında politikayı belirleyen isimlerin ağırlıklarını koymasıyla beraber Trump da bu noktada sinyaller verdi, “Ben takvim vermemiştim” şeklinde açıklamaları oldu. Yani bu çekilme açıklamasıyla ilgili “damage control” (hasar kontrol) çalışmaları sürmekte ama çekilme Trump’ın seçim kampanyasında da belirttiği bir konuydu. Danışılmadan yapılması tepki yarattı. Ama bu siyasetten dönülüyor, çekilinse bile bazı birliklerin daha uzun süre kalacağı da konuşuluyor. Böyle bir opsiyon muhtemel.
Öte yandan Türkiye’nin Suriye’de IŞİD’e karşı rol oynayacağını, konunun uzmanları dahil hiç kimse anlayabilmiş değil. Çünkü IŞİD’in şu anda bulunduğu nokta ile Türkiye arasındaki sınır yüzlerce kilometre.
“IŞİD ile mücadelenin Türkiye’ye bırakılması gerçekçi değil”
Buradan geçmesi için Suriye Demokratik Güçleri’nin (SDG) kontrol ettiği yerlerden geçmesi lazım ki bu ne pratik ne de gerçekçi.
Ayrıca zaten YPG’nin başını çektiği SDG, IŞİD’e karşı çok yoğun bir savaş sürdürmekte. En son Cumartesi günkü çatışmada iki İngiliz askeri yaralandı. Yani İngiliz askeri ve SDG yan yana savaşıyor IŞİD’e karşı, bu da önemli bir ayrıntı.
Yani böyle bir şey varken Türkiye’nin IŞİD’e karşı rol almasını beklemek gerçekçi değil, zaten Washington’da da bunun pek karşılığı yok. ABD basınında da birkaç gündür Türkiye’nin maddi ve manevi taleplerle böyle bir hava yaratması eleştiriliyor.
“Kürtlerin talepleri rol sahibi olmak”
Kürtler ve Esad’ın yaz aylarından beri gündeme gelen anlaşma iddialarını nasıl değerlendiriyorsunuz? Bölgede kartlar yeniden karılıyor klişesi şu an için geçerli mi?
Kürtler Suriye’nin bir parçasılar, Suriye’deki en büyük etnik azınlıklar. Suriye’nin en güçsüz olduğu zamanda bile hiç Suriye’yi terk etmeyi düşünmediler.
Kendi projeleri hep Suriye dahilinde kendi federasyonlarının olması, yani yerel yönetimlerinin güçlendirilmesi. Şam’daki demir yumruğun kaldırılması, insanların kendi kimliği, kendi renkleriyle yaşamasına izin verilmesi.
O nedenle de mümkün olduğu kadar Suriye hükümetiyle çatışmadan çekinildi, yeri geldi Halep gibi bazı bölgelerde destek de sunuldu.
Gelinen noktada Suriye hükümeti, Suriye’nin meşru yönetimi, o sebeple Kürtler her zaman Suriye hükümetiyle anlaşmadan yana, ama benim Rojava’daki siyasiler, askeri temsilciler ve sıradan insanlarla yaptığım görüşmelerde rejimden bir değişim beklendiği, rejimin Kürtler’in Suriye’nin toprak bütünlüğüne katkılarının takdir edilmesi gerektiği, IŞİD, El Nusra ve benzeri cihatçı örgütlere karşı savaşının görülmesi, Kürtler ve müttefiklerinin taleplerine saygı gösterilmesi, yerine getirilmesi gibi talepler var.
Ancak hükümette geçen sekiz yıllık savaşa, yıkıma rağmen fazla olumlu değişiklik görülmüyor. Kürtlerin istemlerine olumlu yaklaşılmamakla birlikte sert tepkiler veriliyor.
Kürtlerin istediği Suriye’nin geleceğinde rol sahibi olmak. Malumunuz Kürtler onlarca yıldır ülkenin en büyük azınlığı olarak her türlü haktan mahrum olarak yaşadılar.
Kürtler artık bunu kabul etmek istemiyor, bunun böyle olmaması gerektiğini söylüyor. Kürtlerin on bine yakın kadın ve erkek kayıpları var, özellikle bu cihatçılara karşı.
Kürtlerin istediği kendi dillerinin, varlıklarının anayasal güvence altına alınması, kendi bölgelerini kendilerinin yönetmesi. Kürtlerin, Süryanilerin, bölgedeki Arapların, Ezidi Kürtlerin istemi bu.
“Rusya Suriye yönetimini ikna ediyor”
Eğer Suriye hükümeti biraz geçmişten ders çıkarırsa, Suriye’nin çok renkli, kültürlü yapısına bağlı olarak Kürtlerin isteklerine önem verirse sorunlar çözülmeyecek gibi değil. Benim gördüğüm hükümet bugüne kadar buna yanaşmamaktaydı. Ama son dönemlerde bu tür görüşmeler devam ediyor.
Rusya’nın da ara bulucu olduğu konusunda görüşler var. Rusya’nın kendisi de federasyon yönetimi. Suriye yönetimini ikna etmeye yakın olduğu yorumları yapılmakta. O nedenle Kürtler ve Esad’ın oturup konuşması sürpriz değil. Bu da olumlu bir şey. Suriye sekiz yıldan beri çok büyük bir yıkım yaşadı. Binlerce insan öldü, milyonlarcası evinden barkından oldu.
“ABD-Türkiye ilişkileri iyileşmedi”
Brunson krizinin ardından yaşanan iki ülke açısından tamamen ‘iyileşen’ ilişkiler dönemi mi, bu İran ile ne kadar bağlantılı?
Tamamen iyileşen ilişkiler olduğuna katılmıyorum. Amerika ve Türkiye arasında çok ciddi sorunlar var. Bu sorunlar da kolay kolay çözülecek sorunlar değil. Çünkü ciddi.
İran bunun sadece bir bağlamı. Kürtler konusu, Suriye konusu, İran, Halkbank, S-400 füzeleri, pek çok sorun var. Bu kolay kolay çözülmez ama Trump’ın Brunson’dan sonra baskıyı hafiflettiği görülüyor.
Bu çekilme konusunda Trump’ın Erdoğan ile yaptığı konuşma sonrası ABD medyası bu konuda hem fikir. ABD kamuoyu da çekilme kararında Erdoğan’ın rolü olduğuna inanıyor. Ama öte yandan Bolton’ın Türkiye’ye olumsuz bir bakış açısı da, Pompeo’nun bakan olmadan önce yaptığı açıklamalar da biliniyor.
Hükümet içerisinde Trump gibi düşünmeyen insanlar olduğu da biliniyor. Türkiye’nin cihatçılara karşı yeterince çaba göstermediği, Türkiye’nin Kürtlere karşı sert politikalar yürüttüğü, şu anda da asıl amacının IŞİD ile savaş olmadığı, Kürtler’i ezmek olduğu dile getiriliyor. Böyle bakıldığında temiz bir sayfa açılmış değil.
İran önemli, Bolton ve Pompeo’nun başını çektiği grup İran’a politikaların sertleşmesi gerektiğine inanıyorlar. Türkiye’nin de İran ilişkileri biliniyor. Orta vadede ben ilişkilerin iyi olacağı ya da şu anda iyileştiği fikrine katılmıyorum. (PT)
US forces patrolling in northeastern Syria near the Turkey border for the second time in three days, November 4, 2018. Image: @mustefa2bali/Twitter
The order to withdraw American troops from Syria has been signed, the U.S. military said Sunday, December 24, after President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart agreed to prevent a power vacuum in the wake of the controversial move.
The announcement that U.S. troops would leave Syria – where they have been deployed to assist in the multinational fight against Islamic State – shocked global partners and American politicians alike.
“The execute order for Syria has been signed,” a U.S. military spokesperson told AFP when asked about the withdrawal order, without providing further details.
Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Trump’s momentous decision on Syria, a country where it will now have a freer rein to target the People’s Protection Units (YPG), U.S.-allied fighters who have played a major role in the war against ISIS but are deemed terrorists by Ankara.
Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone on Sunday and “agreed to ensure coordination between their countries’ military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria,” the Turkish presidency said in a statement.
Late Sunday, Trump tweeted that Erdogan had assured him that any remaining ISIS fighters in Syria will be eliminated.
“President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey has very strongly informed me that he will eradicate whatever is left of ISIS in Syria,” Trump said in a tweet around midnight Sunday.
Trump added that Erdogan “is a man who can do it.”
The U.S. president concluded: “Our troops are coming home!”
Hours earlier, Trump had tweeted that he and Erdogan “discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area.”
U.S. politicians, including those from his own Republican party, and international allies fear the withdrawal of the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops is premature and would further destabilize the already devastated region.
A U.S. withdrawal, said Mutlu Civiroglu, a Kurdish affairs analyst, will open the way “for Turkey to start its operations against the Kurds, and a bloody war will begin.”
Turkey considers the predominantly-Kurdish YPG, which forms the core of the multiethnic Syrian Democratic Forces, inextricable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist group by Ankara and its Western allies.
But the YPG is not a proscribed organization in the European Union, United Kingdom or United States, and U.S. defense officials have publicly supported the group due its unique capabilities in battling Islamic State as part of the U.S.-backed SDF.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said he “deeply regretted” Trump’s decision, and that “an ally must be reliable.”
Two top leaders of the political arm of the SDF, the Syrian Democratic Council, visited France on Friday for talks on the U.S. military withdrawal from Syria and Turkey’s threats to launch a military operation.
New Pentagon chief
U.S. troops will leave under the auspices of a new Pentagon chief set to start next month, after Jim Mattis resigned from the post citing key differences, including on Syria, with the often-impulsive Trump.
Several U.S. politicians from both parties rejected Trump’s claim that ISIS had been defeated, and the decision also caused alarm and dismay in the U.S. military over the prospect of suddenly abandoning Washington’s Kurdish partners.
Trump’s sudden decision sparked turmoil within his administration, prompting the resignation of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, as well as Mattis.
Plans for the troop withdrawal will now be overseen by Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who Trump on Sunday said would replace Mattis starting January 1.
Mattis, 68, had said he would leave at the end of February to allow a smooth transition for the next chief of the world’s top military power – but a reportedly angry Trump accelerated his departure by two months.
Defense spokesperson Dana White tweeted that Mattis would still assist in the handover, working with Shanahan to ensure the department “remains focused on the defense of our nation during this transition.”
According to U.S. media, Trump voiced resentment over news coverage of Mattis’ stinging resignation letter that laid bare his fundamental disagreements with the president.
Days later, special envoy McGurk made a similar move, saying he could not support Trump’s Syria decision that, he said, “left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered.”
Unlike Mattis, Shanahan has never served in the military and has spent most of his career in the private sector.
He spent over three decades working for aircraft giant Boeing, including as vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, before moving to the Pentagon as deputy in 2017.
Until Trump finds a permanent Pentagon chief, Shanahan will lead plans for US troops to leave Syria along with a significant drawdown in Afghanistan, both of which critics worry will leave war-torn regions at risk of continued and potentially heightened bloodshed.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, with US President Donald Trump at G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 1 December (AFP)
The US president tweeted that the two leaders had “a long and productive call,” and also discussed the Islamic State (IS) group and “heavily expanded trade,” AFP reported.
Trump shocked US allies on Friday when he announced plans to pull the 2,000 US troops out of Syria, where they have been helping coordinate a multinational fight against IS. On Sunday, a US military spokesperson said the order for their withdrawal had been signed, without providing further details.
French President Emmanuel Macron criticised Trump’s decision, saying “an ally must be reliable”. In a sign of the growing diplomatic rift between the two leaders, Macron said: “I deeply regret the decision” by Trump to pull out US troops.
Still, the move was lauded by Turkey.
The decision followed an earlier Trump phone call with Erdogan, who has been pressing for a US withdrawal.
The Turkish presidency said in a statement: “The two leaders agreed to ensure coordination between their countries’ military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria.”
Erdogan had said on Friday that Turkey would take over the fight against IS in Syria as the US withdraws.
An American pullout would also allow Turkish troops to move against the hardened Kurdish fighters in Syria deemed terrorists by the Ankara government – but who have strongly supported US efforts there.
A US withdrawal, said Mutlu Civiroglu, a Kurdish affairs analyst, “will open way for Turkey to start its operations against the Kurds, and a bloody war will begin”.
Trump’s sudden decision sparked turmoil in his administration, prompting the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, to be effective on 28 February, as well as of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-IS coalition.
In announcing his resignation, Mattis distributed a candid resignation letter addressed to Trump that laid bare the growing divide between them, and implicitly criticized Trump for failing to value America’s closest allies, who fought alongside the United States in both conflicts. Mattis said that Trump deserved to have a defense secretary more aligned with his views, Reuters reported.
Trump on Sunday said he would be replacing Mattis two months earlier than specified in his resignation, a move officials said was driven by Trump’s anger at Mattis’s resignation letter and its rebuke of his foreign policy, Reuters reported.
Several US politicians of both parties rejected Trump’s claim that the forces of IS had been defeated, and many in the US military expressed alarm and dismay at the thought of suddenly abandoning their Kurdish allies.
Criticism continued on Sunday television news shows, according to the Wall Street Journal:
“I am deeply, deeply concerned and I oppose strongly the president’s decision apparently to withdraw troops from Syria,” Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, said on CBS, also mentioning Trump’s plans to remove about half the US troops in Afghanistan.
“These two decisions would be disastrous,” Cheney said. “They would really, in many ways, hand the victories to our enemies to Iran, to ISIS in Syria, the Taliban, al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”
Incoming White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney countered on Fox News that the president had long made his intentions clear. “We recognize the fact that this is unpopular within the beltway,” he said. “We recognize this fact it’s unpopular within the Defense Department. It’s very popular with ordinary American people.”