As Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unleashes more assaults on the country’s battered democratic institutions, Sam Wainwright looks at why Australia must support the democratic forces battling to create a just and democratic society in the Middle East.
Syrian Democratic Forces
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 5, where they agreed on a plan for a ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib province, writes Chris Slee.
The Bashar al-Assad regime has captured more than a third of Idlib, a province in north-western Syria, which had been controlled by rebels. Chris Slee writes that in the process, about 900,000 people have been displaced according to United Nations figures.
There are currently two wars being fought in northern Syria, writes Chris Slee.
Despite the agreement reached between Russia and Turkey on October 22 in the Russian city of Sochi, which established a 150-hour ceasefire in Northern Syria from October 23–29, air and ground attacks by the Turkish army and its jihadist mercenaries continued uninterrupted.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on October 27 that, as a result of talks with Russia, they would "reposition" their units and accept the deployment of Syrian central government troops on the border.
More than 200 people attended a protest at Sydney Town Hall on October 12, organised by Rojava Solidarity Sydney and the Democratic Kurdish Community Centre (NSW). The protest was part of a global day of action against Turkey's genocidal invasion of North and East Syria.
Turkish forces have invaded Rojava — the Kurdish-majority multi-ethnic territory of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AA). In a telephone call to Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, United States president Donald Trump gave the invasion a green light.
In 2012, the newly formed Kurdish self-defence forces took control of the town of Kobanê from the Assad regime’s forces.
Despite all the immense challenges facing it, the revolution has survived. It has provided tremendous inspiration to people around the world. It thus has a global meaning and relevance.
July 19 marked the seventh anniversary of northern Syria’s Rojava Revolution. On that day in 2012 the nascent People’s Protection Units (YPG) took control of the Kurdish-majority city of Kobanê. The outnumbered forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad surrendered and were allowed to depart (without their weapons). Other Kurdish cities and towns in the north were soon liberated as well.
Since the liberation of the last of the ISIS-occupied territory this year, the self-administered areas of northern and eastern Syria set up by the liberation forces have enjoyed secure and stable conditions. However, they have been denied representation in the international negotiations to resolve the Syrian crisis, write Ismet Tashtan and Peter Boyle.
Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in Syria, is on the verge of falling. The rapid advance of the left-wing Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since they entered the city on June 6 contrasts with the slower advance of forces of the Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdistan governments in Mosul, the ISIS capital in Iraq, which the pro-government forces entered in February.
However, the June 18 downing of a Syrian fighter jet by a US war plane, after the former attacked SDF positions near Raqqa, is just one indication that eliminating ISIS will not end the violent multi-sided war in Syria that spawned it.
An ISIS attack on May 2 near the Rajim Salibi border crossing between Iraq and Syria left 37 refugees dead and at least 20 injured. Victims were as young as three months. “The attack was repelled [by] the intervention by Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] fighters,” Firat News Agency reported.
Most of the refugees were fleeing the Iraqi city of Mosul, which for months has been the scene of heavy fighting as Western, Russian, Iranian, Iraqi government forces and allied militias try to retake the city from ISIS.
Turkish war planes launched air strikes against Syria and Iraq on April 24.
For months local and foreign forces have been closing in on the main ISIS strongholds: the cities of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. Turkey is a NATO member and recognised as an ally against ISIS by the US-led coalition of Western powers in Iraq and Syria, that includes Australia.
But the Turkish air strikes did not target ISIS. Instead, they were aimed at the terror group’s most consistent opponents — left-wing Kurdish-led revolutionary forces.