Northern Syria

The world is looking the other way as Turkey plans to build on its successful occupation of Afrîn to expand its power with a new round of ethnic cleansing, John Tully writes.

“Freedom” can be a very difficult word to define, but it is easy to understand when you lose it.

The Democratic Autonomous Administration of Afrin Canton in Syria’s north, which is resisting Turkey’s occupation, has warned all Syrians that Turkey’s murderous attack aims at ethnic cleansing.

The Afrin canton in Northern Syria is under sustained assault from invading Turkish forces and allied Islamist gangs. 

The Turkish invasion, accompanied by reports of massacres and use of chemical weapons, aims to destroy the progressive, democratic Kurdish-led revolution in Syria’s north, which places women’s liberation at its centre.

On January 20, Turkey launched an invasion of Afrin, one of the three cantons that make up the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (also known as Rojava), the site of a profound, Kurdish-led social revolution based on multi-ethnic participatory democracy and women’s liberation.

The invasion has killed dozens of civilians in an area that has welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria’s conflict. Turkey’s actions would be impossible without at least passive acceptance from several great powers active in Syria. Cihad Hammy looks at the motivations for various major players.

The dark clouds of 21st-century fascism are once again hanging over the heads of the people of northern Syria. As if the inhabitants of the region often referred to as Rojava haven’t suffered enough over the course of the past 7 years of war, the Turkish state has come to the conclusion that the time is ripe to pick up the fallen, bloodied sword from the corpse that is Islamic State.

Together with Salafist mercenaries carrying flags of the Syrian ‘rebels’ – one of the many components of what at one historical juncture seemingly all so long ago was a cohesive ‘Free Syrian Army’ – Erdogan’s regime vows a ‘swift operation’ to destroy ‘terrorism’ in Afrin.

As Turkey’s air force bombed the Afrin canton in northern Syria, causing growing civilian casualties in a region that is home to hundreds of thousands of refugees, British Prime Minister Theresa May signed a new deal worth £100 million with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on January 28 to help Turkey develop new fighter jets.

By contrast, the socialist leader of the Labour Party opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, sent a message to a protest against Turkey’s invasion that expressed his solidarity with Afrin and the Kurdish people.

The left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has condemned Turkey’s invasion of the Afrin region in northern Syria (known as Rojava in Kurdish) in collaboration with mostly jihadi Syrian militias.

The HDP, with strong roots in Turkey’s Kurdish minority, has itself faced worsening repression from the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Northern Syria’s Feminist Revolution" is the title of a one-day seminar to be held at Victoria University on November 4.

It is being jointly organised by the Kurdish Democratic Community Centre of Victoria, the Kurdish Women’s League of Victoria and the Australians for Kurdistan solidarity group. It is also sponsored by Victoria University’s Community, Identity and Displacement Research Network.

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