Gazeteci Mutlu Çiviroğlu, Trump’ın açıklamasını iznews’e yorumladı: Trump tepkilere dayanamadı, tepkinin kesiştiği nokta Kürtlere ihanet edildiği üzerineydi

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Özel Haber: İhsan Kaçar

ABD Başkanı Donald Trump ile Türkiye Cumhurbaşkanı Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arasında yapılan telefon görüşmesinden sonra, Beyaz Saray tarafından yapılan açıklamada, “Türkiye’nin Suriye’nin kuzeyinde uzun süredir planladığı operasyon için yakın zamanda harekete geçeceği hatırlatılırken, ABD’nin bu operasyona dahil olmayacağı, askeri destek vermeyeceği ve “IŞİD’i yenilgiye uğratan” Amerikan askerlerinin bölgeden çekileceği aktarıldı.” İfadeleri kullanıldı.

Beyaz Saray’ın bu açıklamasını Amerika’da bulunan deneyimli Gazeteci Mutlu Çiviroğlu iznews agency’e yorumladı.

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Beyaz Saray’ın açıklamasında görünen şunlar; “Türkiye yakında, uzun süredir Suriye için planladığı askeri harekatı başlanacağı söyleniyor. Türkiye bu operasyonu yaparken, Beyaz Saray’ın buna karşı durma gibi bir rahatsızlığı yok. Bu da ABD’nin şimdiye kadar uygulamış olduğu siyasetten vazgeçmiş oluyor. Çünkü bu güne kadar uyguladığı siyaset, “Türkiye’nin tek taraflı adımlardan kaçınması gerektiği” üzerineydi. Son dönemlerde yapılan çalışmalar da, ortak koordinasyon amaçlıydı. Bu çalışmanın amacı, Türkiye’nin tek taraflı adım atmamasına yönelikti. Beyaz Saray tarafından yapılan yeni açıklama, bu siyasetin sona geldiği ‘anlamı’ olarak da yorumlanıyor.” diyen Çiviroğlu, “Amerikan güçlerine verilen emirlere de ‘o bölgeden bulunmayın anlamı çıkıyor’ Türkiye’nin operasyon yapacağı bölgede Amerika’nın askerlerinin olmaması ve çekilmesi gerektiği, bu askerlerin operasyona ne destek verileceği, ne de karşı olacağı anlamına geliyor. Yani taraf olmaması gerektiği söyleniyor.”

Gazeteci Çiviroğlu, Beyaz Saray’dan yapılan açıklamayla ilgili sözlerini şöyle sürdürdü:

“Burada önemli olan şu, operasyon yapılacağı bölgeden bulunmayacak, ama Suriye’den tamamen çıkacağı ibaresi yok. Ayrıca açıklamada operasyonun yapılacağı alan da belirtilmemiş, bu nedenle son zamanlarda açıklamalarda gördüğümüz muğlaklık, burada da bulunuyor. Tam olarak yorumlamak güç, çünkü somut, açık ve berrak ifadeler yok. Türkiye’nin ne kadar Suriye’nin içerisine girecek ile ilgili bilgimiz de yok. Tekrar söyleyim, ‘Türkiye tek taraflı girmemeli’ siyasetinden çark edildiği görülüyor.”

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Çivirlioğlu: Daha önce de iznews’e yaptığım açıklamalarda da söylemiştim. Başkan Trump’ın Pentagon ve diğer ABD kurumlarının tavsiyelerine rağmen, kişisel olarak verdiği kararlar var, bu da o kararlardan biri, çünkü Pentagon’un, CENTROM’un diyeceği ‘ABD askerlerinin orada kalması gerektiğini ve Türkiye’nin bölgeye operasyon yapmaması, olası bir operasyonun bölgeyi istikrarsızlaştıracağını, IŞİD’e yarayacağı ve IŞİD’e yaşam alanı sunacağı IŞİD tehlikesinin daha bitmediği’ görüşü var.

Trump ve Erdoğan’ın iyi anlaştıklarını ifade eden Çiviroğlu, “Geçen yıl Aralık ayında okuyucularınızda hatırlar, Trump’ın ‘çekileceğiz’ açıklaması da Erdoğan’la yapılan görüşmeden sonra olmuştu. Her iki lider arasında bir frekans var. Türkiye’de bunu iyi okuyor. Erdoğan’da son hamlelerini Trump üzerinden yapıyordu. Beyaz Saray’ın açıklamasını da bir şekilde bunun yansıması olarak görebiliriz.”

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Trump müttefiklere kızgın

Çiviroğlu: Açıklamanın ikinci bölümünde de Trump’ın müttefiklere sitemi ve kızgınlığı var. “Fransa, Almanya ve birçok Avrupa ülkelerine söyledik, gelin IŞİD’li vatandaşlarınızı alın diye, ama almadılar. Bu saatten sonra Amerika artık bundan sorumlu değildir.” Burada Trump müttefiklere olan kızgınlığı açıkça dile getiriyor. Açıklamanın en ilginç noktası ise, “bu saatten sonra, artık IŞİD’lilerden sorumlu ülke olan Türkiyedir”  bunu belirtilirken de, ‘Vergi veren Amerikan halkının artık bu yükü taşımayacağı’ gibi bir ifade kullanıyor. Buradan baktığımızda, Trump kendine ve siyasetine uygun adımlar atıyor. Çünkü Amerika’yı bir müttefikle karşı karşıya getirmiyor. IŞİD belasından da, yükü ülkesinin üzerinden alıp, başka bir ülkeye devrediyor. Bu ülke de Türkiye, şu anda, olası operasyonla, tutuklu IŞİD’lilerin sorumlusu bundan sonra artık Türkiye’de olacak” diyor.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over…

159 B kişi bunun hakkında konuşuyor

Trump’ın ‘Türkiye ekonomisi mahvedip yok edeceğim’ açıklamasını değerlendiren Çiviroğlu:

‘Dün gece Beyaz Saray’dan yapılan açıklamadan bu yana büyük bir tepki var. Bu karara hem Cumhuriyetçilerden hem Demokratlardan hem ABD kamuoyundan hem de medyadan ve düşünce kuruluşlarından gelen büyük bir tepki var. Tepkinin kesiştiği nokta Kürtlere ihanet edildiği bu kadar bedel ödeyen müttefiklerin yalnız bırakıldığı. Turkiye’nin niyetinin Kürtleri yok etmek olduğu vurgulanıyor. Bu yüzden de Trump’a bu karardan vazgeçmesi çağrısı yapılıyor. Bu kararın İran ve Rusya’ya da büyük kazanım sağlayacağı dile getiriliyor. Özellikle Cumhuriyetçi senatör Luisa Grader, ABD’in yakın döneme kadar BM’deki Büyükelçisi Nikki Haley gibi isimlerin açıklamaları var. Bunların hepsinin yansıması olarak Trump’in baskılara dayanamadığını kararından geri dönerek ve bugünkü açıklamasını yaptığını görüyoruz. Bu açıklama ABD kamuoyunun düşünce kuruluşlarının, medyanın çekilme konusunda ne kadar rahatsız olduğu gösteriyor. | @iznews agency

Gazeteci Mutlu Çiviroğlu, Trump’ın açıklamasını iznews’e yorumladı: Trump tepkilere dayanamadı, tepkinin kesiştiği nokta Kürtlere ihanet edildiği üzerineydi

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

Mutlu Çiviroğlu: ‘Güvenli bölge’ anlaşması, ABD’nin Türkiye’nin tek taraflı operasyonuna müsaade etmeyeceği anlamına geliyor.’

Konuşa Konuşa’da Gülten Sarı’nın konuğu, gazeteci ve Kürt sorunu analisti Mutlu Çiviroğlu. Türkiye ile ABD arasında varılan ‘güvenli bölge’ anlaşmasını değerlendiren Çiviroğlu, ‘müşterek harekat merkezi’ kurulmasının, ABD’nin, Rojava’yı Türkiye’ye terk etmek istemediğini ortaya koyduğunu söyledi.

Konuşa Konuşa’yı buradan dinleyebilirsiniz:

https://ahvalnews.com/tr/konusa-konusa/mutlu-civiroglu-guvenli-bolge-anlasmasi-abdnin-turkiyenin-tek-tarafli-operasyonuna

 

Türkiye ile ABD heyetleri arasında dün tamamlanan ‘Güvenli Bölge’ görüşmelerini Gazeteci Mutlu Çiviroğlu üç başlık altında iznews’e değerlendirdi

Türkiye ile ABD heyetleri arasında dün tamamlanan ‘Güvenli Bölge’ görüşmeleri Gazeteci Mutlu Çiviroğlu üç başlık altında iznews’e değerlendirdi.

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Türkiye ile ABD heyetleri arasında dün tamamlanan ‘Güvenli Bölge’ görüşmeleri Gazeteci Mutlu Çiviroğlu üç başlık altında iznews’e değerlendirdi.

Röportaj: Çiğdem Ay

Bugün heyetler arasında tamamlanan ve sınırlı yapılan açıklamalarla birlikte ‘Güvenli Bölge’ görüşmelerini hakkında ne düşünüyorsunuz?

Öncelikle Amerikan Büyükelçiliği’nin açıklamalarını dikkate alarak yorumda bulunmak gerekir. Çünkü geçmişte tarafların (ABD ve Türkiye) açıklamalarının çok farklı olduğu görüldü. ABD’nin Türkiye Büyükelçiliği’nin açıklamaları önemli, heyetler arasında yapılan görüşmede üç ana maddeye vurgu yapılıyor.
Koridor meselesi adına yapılan açıklamalarda dilin muğlak olduğu kesin, çünkü tam olarak ne kastedildiği belli değil.

“Zaman kazanmak adına yapılmış bir manevra olabilir”

Gözlemlenen zaman kazanma Türkiye’nin tek başına adım atmasının önüne geçme ve buna bağlı olarak ABD’nin sürecin içerisinde beraber ve koordineli hareket edilmesi için Türkiye’yi ikna ettiği ve ne yapılacaksa beraber yapılacak.

Türkiye sınırları içerisinde ortak operasyon merkezleri kurulabilir”

Bunun pratik adımı olarak Türkiye sınırları içerisinde koordine merkezlerinden bahsediliyor ve önemli bir husus olarak görülüyor.

Her ne kadar şaşırtıcı olmasa da iki güçte müttefik, bir çok konuda iş birlikleri var, örneğin Kobani, Menbiç hatlarında ortak devriye sınır faaliyetleri olmuştu.

İkinci madde olarak, Türkiye’nin güvenlik kaygılarını giderme hususu var, ama bu adımların ne olduğu net olarak belirtilmediği için yorum yapmak güç…

Üçüncü olarak, Suriyelilerin dönmesi için barış koridorlarının oluşturulmasından bahsediliyor, bu madde de yoruma açık; Burada Kuzey Suriye’nin yani Rojava toprakları Suriye’nin geneline göre istikrarlı, huzurlu bir bölge. Siyasi açıdan bir yönetim var Kürtler, Süryaniler, Araplar, Ezidiler yine cinsiyet acısından bakıldığında da kadınlar hayatın her alanında birlikte yaşamlarını sürdürmekte huzurlu bir ortam mevcut.

Barış koridorunun oluşturulmasında kasıt:

Bu bölgenin daha da güçlendirilmesi mi ? Yoksa koalisyonla birlikte IŞID’ten kurtarılan Deyrizor, Tapka, Rakka gibi kentlerin yeniden yapılanması ve insanlarin buraya tekrardan dönüşünün sağlanması mi?

Bundan sonraki süreçte ABD Suriye siyasetini hangi düzeyde yürütebilir?

ABD hem Türklerle hem Kürtlerle işbirliği içerisinde olduğu için önemli bir güç. Fakat somut olarak adımların ne olacağı belirtilmediği için ben ABD’nin Suriye siyasetini şimdilik yakın bir zeminde yürüyeceğini düşünüyorum.

Washington ‘da Türk hükümetinin S-400’ler unutturmak için bu gündemi öne çektiği vurgulanıyor. Türkiye’nin kendi iç kamuoyuna sunabileceği başarılı olduğu bir durum var. Örneğin; Türkiye’nin güvenlik kaygılarına önem verildiği vurgulanıyor, koordinasyon merkezleri kuruluyor.

ABD ve Türkiye’nin Kürtlerle işbirliği hakkında ciddi derin ayrılıkları olduğu biliniyor

Kürtler acısından nasil değerlendiriyorsunuz?

Kürtlerin henüz bir açıklaması yok. Aynı zamanda ben Kürt yetkililerin de açıklamasını bekliyorum . Türk ve ABD yetkililer görüştükten sonra Rojava’ya gelip Kürt yetkililerle görüşülüyor, muhtemelen yarın ya da bugün ABD yetkiler gelip neler konuşulduğunu Kürt yetkilierle paylaşacaklardır.

Diğer taraftan ABD ve Türkiye’nin Kürtlerle işbirliği hakkında ciddi derin ayrılıkları olduğu biliniyor. Benim somut olarak görebildiğim ABD Türkiye’nin tek taraflı adım atmasını önleyerek koordineli hareket etmek istiyor. | iznewsagency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TDP: How are they separated?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TDP: Do the families seem to be repentant?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOANNE STOCKER

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

U.S. IS IN BUSINESS WITH SYRIA’S ASSAD—WHETHER DONALD TRUMP LIKES IT OR NOT

BY TOM O’CONNOR

us, oil, business, syria, trump, assad
Syrian government forces stand at the entrance of the Rasafa oil pumping station after taking it from ISIS, on July 9, 2017. The site is situated southwest of the city of Raqqa, where ISIS would be driven out by the Syrian Democratic Forces months later.GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The United States’ primary allies in Syria have supplied oil to Damascus, despite the government being sanctioned by Washington.

The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, and the Kurdish forces that comprise the majority of the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have long maintained a working relationship despite vast political differences before and after a 2011 rebel and jihadi uprising that has threatened both of their livelihoods. As the two factions emerge as the most influential forces on the ground, their ongoing ties are receiving new attention.

The dialogue between the Syrian government and Syrian Democratic Forces has centered on the former’s need for oil from resource-rich regions held by the latter, which has demanded greater autonomy. U.S. plans to withdraw from the conflict following the virtual defeat of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), however, have expedited Kurdish desires to be on good terms with Damascus.

Reporting by Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency and Daily Sabah newspaper cited local sources Thursday as saying that a new deal had been reached to allow the People’s Protection Units (YPG)—the leading faction of the Syrian Democratic Forces—to more quickly transport oil via new pipelines being built under the government-held, eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

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Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and U.S. soldiers (left) gather at the Al-Tanak oil field as they prepare to relaunch a military campaign against ISIS near Al-Bukamal, which is under government control, along with Deir Ezzor city, on May 1, 2018. The United States’ primary allies in Syria have supplied oil to Damascus, despite the government being sanctioned by Washington.DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The sources claimed that companies operating under government control had already begun laying pipes near Al-Shuhayl, a town off the western bank of the Euphrates River that divides the separate anti-ISIS campaigns waged by the Syrian government in the west and the Syrian Democratic Forces. The deal was reportedly the result of an agreement made during talks last July when the two sides agreed to share production profits.

The day after the Turkish report was published, The Wall Street Journal published its own piece citing a person familiar with U.S. intelligence and a tanker driver transporting oil in elaborating on the arrangement. The article found that oil tankers were traveling near daily to transport oil to the Qatarji Group, a firm hit by U.S. sanctions in September due to its alleged involvement in facilitating oil deals between the government and ISIS.

The official U.S. military mission in Syria was limited to defeating ISIS, but Washington and its regional allies previously intervened in the country via support for insurgents attempting to overthrow Assad, whom they accused of human rights abuses. The U.S. began targeting ISIS as it overtook half of both Iraq and Syria in 2014 and teamed up with the Syrian Democratic Forces the following year, just as Russia intervened on Assad’s behalf.

Since Moscow stepped in, the Syrian military and pro-government militias—some of which were Iran-backed Shiite Muslim paramilitary groups mobilized from across the region—have retaken much of the nation, leaving only the northwestern Idlib province in the hands of the Islamist-led opposition now primarily sponsored by Turkey, and roughly a third of the country under the Syrian Democratic Forces’ control in the north and east.

The Syrian Democratic Forces’ share includes most of the nation’s oil resources, which produced up to 350,000 barrels per day prior to the war before dwindling to about 25,000, according to current estimates, while the government still controls the nation’s oil refineries. The successful Syrian Democratic Forces campaign to retake the oil and gas fields from ISIS helped to starve the jihadis of their black market revenue. Now Damascus is in dire need of this income to establish an economy stable enough to capitalize on successive military victories.

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Syrian government forces stand at the entrance of the Rasafa oil pumping station after taking it from ISIS, on July 9, 2017. The site is situated southwest of the city of Raqqa, where ISIS would be driven out by the Syrian Democratic Forces months later.GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

This has led to a number of profit-sharing agreements, extending back to at least 2017, as Damascus continued to pay the salaries of workers in Kurdish-held cities and talks expanded last year to include the Syrian government potentially retaking control of certain facilities such as the Al-Tabqa dam near the northern city of Raqqa. In return, the Syrian Democratic Forces have pushed for wider recognition of the country’s significant Kurdish minority and for greater self-rule. More than anything, however, the militia has now sought the Syrian government’s protection against a common enemy.

Turkey, a fellow U.S. ally, considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization due to suspected ties to a Kurdish separatist insurgency at home. With President Donald Trump planning to soon withdraw from Syria, many Kurdish fighters have expressed fears that their protective umbrella would close. Pro-government groups, too, have clashed with the Syrian Democratic Forces in apparent attempts to seize oil and gas infrastructure, which—along with the rest of the country—Assad has vowed to reclaim through diplomacy or force.

Though Trump has vowed to protect the Kurds in the event of a U.S. exit, he also accused them last month of “selling the small oil that they have to Iran,” even though “we asked them not to”—a charge denied by leading Syrian Kurdish politician Salih Muslim in an interview with journalist Mutlu Civiroglu. Like Syria, Iran was subject to extensive sanctions by Washington, restricting its ability to market oil internationally.

Iran has, however, sent up to 10,000 barrels per day to Syria, as estimated by TankerTrackers.com and reported by The Wall Street Journal, furthering both countries’ economic interests in a development that has prompted anxieties among Arab states feeling increasingly sidelined by Tehran. As the Syrian Democratic Forces rushed to repair relations with Damascus, a number of Arab League states have also begun to repair ties gradually in hopes of steering Syria away from Iran.

https://www.newsweek.com/us-oil-business-syria-trump-assad-1325018