Why progressives should support the call for a no-fly zone over north and east Syria

July 20, 2022
Rojava resistance
The Rojava Revolution has shown it is possible to create liberated zones based on ethnic and religious inclusivity, women’s liberation and respect for ecology. Photo: Kurdishstruggle/Flickr

Progressive and democratic people all around the world should support the July 3 call by 34 political parties in north and east Syria (NES) — also known as Rojava by the Kurds — for the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over this territory, to block a new invasion by the Turkish state and allied Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed his intention to launch another military operation into northern Syria on June 26. Turkey aims to take over several more towns and cities in areas liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from Islamic State (ISIS) and to occupy a 30-kilometre-deep “security zone” in territory now democratically governed by the Autonomous Administrations of North and East Syria (AANES).

Erdoğan has made no secret of his invasion plans and has already escalated attacks on NES, particularly using killer drones. According to the Rojava Information Centre, there have been 47 attacks on NES by Turkish armed drone between January and June this year. In the last month, the attacks have been stepped up.


Graphic by Rojava Information Center
Turkish drone attacks on North and East Syria, January-June 2022. Graphic: Rojava Information Center (RiC).

SDF commander-in-chief Mazloum Abdi said the Turkish army and allied mercenaries have carried out 1360 attacks against NES cities within the last month. These included 300 artillery attacks, six ground attack attempts, 22 killer drones attacks targeting security personnel and seven drone attacks that claimed the lives of six civilians — including two children — and injured nine.

The SDF has declared that it is ready to resist.

“During the past three years, our forces have strengthened our defenses and their military readiness. We have gained experience from Afrin, Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî and our military force is stronger today. If the Turkish state happens to attack, it will be us but not them to determine the result. This would be not the fight of the Kurds and the SDF, but the fight of the whole of Syria. It would be the fight of all those who oppose the invasion of Syrian land,” Abdi said in a media conference in Heseke on July 15.

A Turkish invasion will face a strong resistance. The SDF has negotiated arrangements with the Syrian regime in Damascus to mobilise its army to help resist the invasion. If Turkish warplanes and armed drones were denied access to the airspace above NES, the invaders would face certain defeat.

This is why progressives should support the call from AANES/Rojava for a UN-authorised no-fly zone. The United States and Russia already control the airspace above NES, but when Turkey invaded and occupied Afrin in 2018, these two powers allowed them to do so. The UN must tell the US and Russia not to do this again.

Some progressives around the world are nervous about supporting the call for a no-fly zone, especially after what happened in Libya. However, this is not like the no-fly zone over Libya in 2011 that allowed reactionary Islamist fundamentalist terrorist groups to take over that country. This no-fly zone is to stop Turkey and its allied Islamist terrorist groups from taking over more territory in AANES/Rojava.

A defeat for Erdoğan’s threatened invasion would be a victory for progressive forces all around the world, because the Rojava revolution that began 10 years ago has pioneered new forms of popular struggle and grassroots democracy. It has shown that even in Syria — a country that has been torn apart and devastated by war, repression and ISIS terror and reaction — it is possible to create liberated zones based on ethnic and religious inclusivity, women’s liberation and respect for ecology.

Video: Sue Bolton: 'Everyone opposing the Russian invasion should equally condemn Turkish plans'. Socialist Alliance.

Video: Defend the Rojava Revolution from Turkish military attacks. Socialist Alliance.

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