Turkey invades Rojava, solidarity urgently needed

October 11, 2019
Yezidi resistance fighters in Shingal, 2015. Photo: flickr.com/kurdishstruggle

On October 9, after many months of military build up and threats, the Turkish military began a new invasion of north-east Syria where, seven years ago, Kurdish freedom fighters established a federation of democratic self-governing cantons popularly known as "Rojava".

This attack came just days after United States President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US military units from the area and gave an implicit “green light” for Turkey's invasion.

First there was cross-border shelling, then air attacks, followed by ground incursions, threatening a new genocide of the Kurdish people.

As we go to press, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are putting up a fierce resistance to the invasion. They have already repelled two ground assaults on Tal Abayd.

This is the second major invasion of Rojava by the Turkish state under dictatorial President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In 2018, Turkish military and allied forces (many drawn from the ranks of Islamic fundamentalist terrorist militias in Syria) invaded Afrin. The result was a brutal occupation and an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing of the predominantly Kurdish province of this western-most canton of Rojava.

Syrian Kurdish leaders fear that this, and worse, is in store for the people in Rojava, should Turkey's invasion succeed.

The Erdogan regime wants to ethnically cleanse north-east Syria of Kurds and is willing to carry out a wholesale genocide, Ismet Tashtan, a spokesperson for the Federation of Democratic Kurdish Society-Australia, told Green Left Weekly.

"Erdogan wants to reverse all the precious gains of the Rojava revolution: women's equality, democracy and equal rights and empowerment for all ethnic and religious groups,” said Tashtan.

"Turkish occupation will not only put the Kurds in great danger but will also put in danger the Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians, Armenians and Yazidis. These ethnic groups have already suffered severe hardship since the Syrian invasion by ISIS in 2014."

An October 9 statement by the Make Rojava Green Again civil society organisation warned that the invasion was also a deadly threat to "the ecosocialist revolution that is happening in Rojava”.

"The war has a lot of sides, not only the military one. We can talk about the ecological war that the Turkish state is already running for several years, burning forests, cutting rivers and polluting soils.

"They had been trying to make life impossible for this revolution, but they failed, and today Rojava flourishes and resists as never seen before. So they decided to continue the war by more direct means.

“The war that starts today is the continuation of what Turkish fascism began a long time ago. They seek to control and dominate the society and nature, and they will put all efforts to destroy what they can’t dominate."

Tashtan said the international community had a moral duty to stand up against the invasion of Rojava, because the green light given to the invasion by the US and Russian governments was a betrayal of the people who fought hardest and made the biggest sacrifices to defeat Islamic State terrorism.

"More than 11,000 Kurdish freedom fighters sacrificed their lives to defeat IS and now their heroism has been repaid with betrayal.

"If the international community does not stand up for the Kurds, the whole Middle East may be plunged into many more years of war. IS might even come back, with the help of the Turkish state.

"We are urging all people who support peace, democracy and human rights to take a stand against Turkey's aggression.

"We ask you to: join the protests against the Turkish invasion of Rojava; get your trade union, peace group and other organisations to condemn the invasion and call upon the Australian government to do the same; and spread the word to friends and colleagues about this emergency situation."

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