Turkey

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.

I am almost four years old. I am on horseback with my mother as our family is being smuggled from northern Iraq across the border on a clear spring dawn. It is 1988 and the Iran-Iraq War is at its final, gruelling, violent end.

A cool breeze blows against us.

I stare up at the sky tracking the sound of the planes and anticipating the familiar silence before the bang of exploding bombs shatter the earth. The planes circle overhead, but this plane is different from the other planes we’ve seen so often.

Afrin, a city within the canton of the same name in northern Syria , is under siege by the Turkish military, supported by right wing jihadist forces, including al-Quaeda, al-Nusra and the remnants of ISIS. Fifty-two days after the invasion began, more than 290 civilians had been killed.

Northern Syria (also known by its Kurdish name of “Rojava”) has been the scene of a social revolution with women’s liberation at its centre in recent years. However, it has come under constant attack.

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.

Three years after Kurdish-led forces liberated the northern Syrian city of Kobane from ISIS — after a months-long siege that captured the world’s imagination — the democratic, multi-ethnic and feminist revolution in Syria’s north is facing a new assault.

This time, it is coming directly from the virulently anti-Kurdish Turkish state, which had supported ISIS’s siege of Kobane.

The media crackdown in Turkey by the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has grown in the aftermath of a failed coup in July last year.

Jailed reporters find themselves caught in a quagmire as they face legal limbo and deal with made-up charges, inhumane treatment and solitary confinement. 

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.

One year after European Union leaders signed a deal with the Turkish government to cut off the wave of desperate refugees seeking to reach Europe’s shores, the policy has caused even more death and suffering.

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