It appears that Turkey has started or will imminently start attacking the Kurdish-ruled enclave of Afrin in Northwestern Syria. The preparations for this operation have been ongoing for months. Turkish forces have surrounded the area from the south and, via their proxies - the socalled Free Syrian Army - from the east and have been fortifying as well as bombing the area for the past few weeks.
For the Erdogan regime a Kurdish, independent entity on Turkey's borders is a threat because it strengthens the movement of the oppressed Kurdish minority inside Turkey. He has never hidden the fact that his current main priority in Syria is to defeat the Kurdish movement, which is led by the PYD, a sister organisation of the PKK in Turkey.
The mass media in the West has been silent on these events. These ‘crusaders for freedom and democracy’ are shutting their eyes to the fact that there are 200,000 men, women and children at the mercy of the brutal killing machine of the Turkish army. Washington, which has used the Kurdish forces to combat ISIS, washed its hands days ago in preparation for what was to come. Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said about Afrin on 16 January, "we don't consider [the Kurds] as part of our 'Defeat ISIS' operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them. We are not involved with them at all." Of course the EU leaders, who have made a dirty deal with Erdogan to stem the flow of desperate refugees coming from the Middle East, have said nothing.
The last piece to the puzzle was Russia, which was invited in to Afrin by the PYD about a year ago to act as a safeguard against Turkish aggression. But after a series of negotiations over the past week, Russia decided to withdraw its forces this morning, immediately after which the Turkish campaign seems to have started.
The Assad regime, fishing for concessions for itself, warned yesterday that it would shoot down Turkish planes, but as Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Friday; "Turkey is well aware that Assad regime's capability to implement its threats against Turkey is 'limited'." The Assad regime is merely a hostage of Russia and Iran who have clearly made a deal with Turkey. In any case, the Assad regime seems to have been neutralised one way or the other. Seeing the withdrawal of Russian troops, there have been reports that the Kurdish leaders reached out to the Syrian government for the return of Syrian state institutions to Afrin and the raising of the Syrian flag there. It is reported that the regime refused.
As is always the case, ‘small’ nations are so much small change in the games and struggles between the major powers. Once they are finished using them, they have no qualms about crushing them or allowing others to do so. The US, Russia, Iran and the Assad regime have at one point or another promised the Kurds some form of support. Even Erdogan leaned on the Kurdish movement in Turkey up until 2014 when the Kurdish-based HDP party suddenly became a threat to his rule. But the ruling class has no permanent friends nor enemies, it only has permanent interests and none of the rulers of the Middle East have any interest in an independent Kurdistan, which would threaten the Turkish, Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian states. What is taking place now is an indication of which way the process will go in the rest of the Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria as well.
The Kurdish people cannot trust anyone but themselves and the other oppressed workers and poor of the region. The Rojava Revolution came about as a part of the initial Syrian Revolution and it only succeeded because of its revolutionary and democratic methods which appeal to wide layers of workers and poor in the region. These are the same methods that can save Afrin now. First of all what is needed is an appeal to and general mobilisation of the Kurdish masses in Turkey, Iraq and Iran: a call for mass demonstrations and strikes throughout the Kurdish areas, for the ending of the brutal one-sided war on the Kurds. Secondly, an appeal should be sent out to all the workers and poor in these countries to join the Kurdish masses in their fight against the reactionary rulers, in particular in Turkey, but equally in Syria, Iraq and Iran. Finally, in the west it is the duty of workers' movement leaders to expose the criminal behavior of western governments who are complicit in the crimes of the Erdogan regime.
The struggle of the Kurdish people for the right to live freely according to their own wishes and to have their own homeland is the struggle of all workers and youth against the capitalist class, which is dragging humanity down into a cesspool of barbarism.
Down with the war on the Kurds!
Down with the Erdogan regime of murderers and thieves!
Down with Imperialism!
Support the Kurdish masses' right to decide their own destinies!
Long live international solidarity!