Turkey invades Syria to wipe out Kurds after Trump gives green light
In this Oct. 7, 2019 photo, a fighter from Turkish-backed forces of the "Free Syrian Army," fires a heavy machine gun during military training maneuvers in preparation for the Turkish invasion of northern Syria. | AP

Kurds are fearing ethnic cleansing today as Turkish forces launch a ground invasion following yesterday’s bombing of Kurdish areas in northern Syria. Turkey’s aggression comes after U.S. troops withdrew from the region earlier this week. President Donald Trump announced the pullback of U.S. forces suddenly and without warning late on Sunday night.

Late Tuesday, Commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), General Mazloum Abdi, warned that Turkish troops “are preparing to cross the border” with a major offensive expected in “a matter of days.”

Thousands of SDF forces have mobilized to Syria’s border with Turkey and Abdi predicted a bloodbath in a “major battle” with NATO’s second-largest standing army.

He claimed Turkish forces would attempt to ethnically cleanse Kurds as Syrian Arab refugees, who have been living in Turkey since their displacement during the war, were repatriated from its cosmopolitan capital Ankara.

“If ethnic cleansing happens in our area, or they kill Kurds and bring Arabs in, this will be the [United States’] responsibility,” he said, warning of genocide. “That is the result of this decision. The result will be ethnic cleansing and change of demography.”

Kurdish forces had been the backbone of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State terrorist caliphate, relying on U.S. arms and advice. Trump, whose family recently opened a new Trump Towers hotel in Istanbul, has now made the decision to abandon the Kurds who were used by the U.S. to do most of the ground fighting against Islamic State. Living in territory that straddles the modern-day borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Armenia, the Kurdish people have long been without a state of their own and have been victims of repression on multiple fronts.

The Turkish government says U.S. President Donald Trump handed it the leadership of the military campaign against Islamic State, but the Kurds are their obvious target.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking through a representative, justified the invasion by saying that Trump, in their telephone conversation Sunday night had handed Turkey control of the battle that the U.S. has been waging alongside Kurdish forces since 2014. His communications director and aide, Fahrettin Altun, said Trump had given the green light for a Turkish invasion.

In this Wednesday, July 11, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump, left, talks with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as they arrive together at NATO headquarters in Brussels. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Syrian Kurds have braced themselves for the Turkish military assault, coming 18 months after Ankara launched Operation Olive Branch—its illegal invasion and occupation of the peaceful Afrin region. Tens of thousands were displaced during that intervention as Turkish forces allied with jihadist groups to drive Kurds out of their homes.

Despite accusations of extra-judicial killings and chemical weapons attacks, Western countries supported Turkey’s actions, saying it had a “right to protect its borders.” Ankara’s latest war is also supported by Turkey’s Kemalist opposition People’s Republican Party.

Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to relocate around two million of his country’s 3.6 million Syrian refugees into the 300-mile long and 19-mile deep “safe zone” in northern Syria that he wants to control. Ankara has been home to many of those displaced, thanks to a deal struck with the European Union to keep migrants from entering its borders.

But on Tuesday the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) called on the neoliberal economic bloc to prevent a Turkish invasion and scrap the “irresponsible” migration deal.

ETUC general secretary Luca Visentini warned that the “completely senseless attack would send Syria back to square one” and called on world leaders to establish “a political transition to peace and democracy.

“The Turkish government’s plan to force Syrian refugees into a farcically named ‘safe zone’ proves it is completely irresponsible for the EU to deport people to Turkey under any circumstances. This must be the final straw for the disgraceful EU-Turkey migration deal.”

This article originally appeared in Morning Star on Oct. 8. It has been supplemented with breaking news information.


Steve Sweeney
Steve Sweeney

Steve Sweeney writes for Morning Star, the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. He is also a People's Assembly National Committee member, patron of the Peace in Kurdistan campaign, and a proud trade unionist. Steve Sweeney escribe para Morning Star, el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña. También es miembro del Comité Nacional de la Asamblea Popular, patrocinador de la campaña Paz en Kurdistán y un orgulloso sindicalista.