Pindostan pressures Turkey to curb attacks on Syrian Kurds
Patrick Martin, WSWS, Aug 30 2016
Obama and Erdogan will meet this coming weekend, the White House said Monday, as tensions mounted between Washington and Ankara over the Turkish invasion of Syria. The meeting will be held in China, where both Obama and Erdogan are to participate in the Group of 20 summit of leading economic powers on Sep 4-5. The Obama-Erdogan meeting was announced as a series of Pindo spoxes criticized the actions of the Turkish military in Syria. After ousting Daesh from the border town of Jarabulus, Turkish forces have turned their guns against Syrian Kurdish forces sponsored and armed by Pindostan. Dozens were killed Sunday in a series of bombardments as Turkish artillery and air strikes hit several villages held by Syrian Kurdish forces, including Jeb el-Kussa, where at least 20 died and 50 were wounded. The Turkish invasion, dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield, while initially billed as an offensive against Daesh, quickly became an extension of the protracted civil war inside Turkey between the Turkish military and the PKK. The Syrian Kurds, allied to the PKK, are organized in the YPG militia and the PYD party, which have become the main forces backed by the Obama administration in northern Syria.
The trigger for the Turkish incursion was not Daesh, which has controlled the section of the Syrian-Turkish border west of Jarabulus for several years without interference by Turkey, but the advances by the Syrian Defense Force (SDF), an umbrella group dominated by the YPG, which crossed the Euphrates River and captured the town of Manbij from Daesh after a 10-week battle. Turkish forces crossed the border on Aug 24 and drove Daesh out of Jarabulus. Then, together with Sunni militias allied to them, they began seizing villages that had been taken by the SDF-YPG in the course of their own offensive against Daesh. A reporter for Al-Jazeera said, referring to the Turkish forces and their militia allies:
Their main target is to take over Manbij. YPG fighters maintain a significant presence along that area with their local allies.
Kurdish forces withdrew in the face of the Turkish onslaught, but in some cases did not move east of the Euphrates, as demanded by Turkey, but south through Manbij, maintaining their beachhead on the western side of the river. The SDF’s military council in the region declared in an online statement:
We, the military council of Jarabulus and its countryside, announce the withdrawal of our forces to the line south of the Sajour River to preserve the lives of civilians and so that no pretext remains for continued strikes on villages and civilians.
In the first days of the invasion, which began while Joe Biden was in Ankara, Pindo boxtops indicated their support for the Turkish attack, hoping that it would help create better conditions for realizing the main Pindo goal of overthrowing Assad. But Monday saw an escalating series of warnings to Turkey from US officials. Brett McGurk, the Pindo Daesh envoy, wrote on Twitter:
We want to make clear that we find these clashes in areas where Daesh is not located, unacceptable and a source of deep concern. We call on all armed actors to stand down.
Ashtray Carter, at a media appearance with the visiting defense minister of India, said that he would be meeting with the Turkish defense minister, Fikri Iski, next week in Europe. He said:
We have called upon Turkey to stay focused, and not to engage… We’ve called on both sides not to fight one another, not to fight each other.
After announcing the upcoming Obama-Erdogan meeting, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters at the White House:
Further action against the SDF would complicate efforts to have that united front. At their meeting in China, Obama and Erdogan will discuss the situation in Turkey since the attempted military coup of Jul 15, as well as the war in Syria and the refugee crisis that it has produced.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government, which has exercised no control over the region in question for several years, condemned what it called “repetitive breaches, aggression and massacres” committed by Turkey against the Syrian people in the area around Jarabulus. The Syrian Foreign Ministry sent two messages Monday to UN Sec-Gen Ban, accusing Turkey of “full-fledged crimes against humanity.” Turkish boxtops reiterated their demands that the Syrian Kurdish forces had to cross back east of the Euphrates River or the Turkish military would continue to attack them. Mevlut Cavusoglu, the foreign minister, said:
So long as they don’t, they will be a target.
Posturing as the defender of Syrian Arabs against aggression by the Kurds, the stance adopted by ISIS as well, Cavusoglu claimed:
In the places where it has moved, the YPG forces everyone out, including Kurds, who do not think like it does and carries out ethnic cleansing.
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus declared Monday that one goal of the Turkish military intervention was to prevent the YPG from gaining control of the entire Syrian-Turkish border, from the northeast to the Mediterranean Sea. He denied Turkey was entering the war in Syria, telling the Turkish broadcaster NTV:
If that happens, it means Syria has been divided. We are in favor of Syria’s territorial integrity. We are not pursuing an aim of becoming a permanent power in Syria. Turkey is not an invader.
Perhaps the most intransigent comment came from Omer Celik, a Turkish cabinet minister, who dismissed Pindo demands that the country fight ISIS but not the Kurdish YPG, saying:
No one has the right to tell Turkey to “fight this terror organization but don’t fight that terror organization.”
The Turkish government brands all Kurdish separatist forces as “terrorists,” whether located in Syria, Iraq or Turkey itself. The Erdogan regime regards the advance of the YPG in Syria as a deadly threat, when combined with the existence of a Kurdish Regional Authority in northern Iraq, and the renewed attacks by the PKK in south-eastern Turkey itself. While the Kurdish forces are divided politically, Ankara fears efforts to link up Kurdish speakers in south-eastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq in a future independent Kurdistan. The complex political situation is made even more complicated by the fact that the Syrian Arab forces allied with the Turks and with the Syrian Kurds respectively each have a Pindo government sponsor. The CIA arms and trains the Sunni militias that are loosely referred to as the FSA, while the Pentagon has helped create the SDF. The result is that separate Pindo-backed Syrian militias are fighting each other. According to press reports, Jaysh al-Tahrir, described by Washington as a “moderate rebel group,” has received several TOW anti-tank missiles from Pindostan and is presumably now using them against the SDF, which has Pentagon SOF embedded within it, who could now find themselves targeted by missiles supplied by their own government. This possibility only demonstrates the increasing recklessness and irrationality of the policy of US imperialism in Syria and throughout the Middle East. After 13 years of warfare, beginning in Iraq and now extending into the civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya, Pindostan has devastated a vast region. Washington bears the main responsibility for the deaths of several million people, the creation of tens of millions of refugees, and destruction on a scale not seen since WW2.
Turkish air strikes kill civilians in Pindo-backed invasion of Syria
Jordan Shilton, WSWS, Aug 29 2016
Turkey began bombing Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria Saturday as the Pindo-backed incursion continued to spread. At least 35 civilians were killed in the air strikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Pindo air power and military “advisers” have been backing the Turkish invasion since it was launched last Wednesday, ostensibly to clear Daesh from Jarablus, one of the last towns ISIS controls near the Turkish border. But Turkey’s overriding aim is to dislodge Kurdish militia forces previously backed by Washington from areas near the Syrian-Turkish border over which they have gained control, in order to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish enclave in the region. As for Pindostan, its motive for supporting the Turkish offensive is its desire to escalate the war in Syria and create the conditions for the overthrow of the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. Ankara’s invasion is inflaming the five-year-old civil war, which has already claimed the lives of close to half a million Syrians and reduced the country’s population by over 5 million. It is being carried out in conjunction with Pindo-Turkish-backed Syrian “rebels” who are hostile to Kurdish forces. Turkey claimed initially that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) would have one week to retreat east of the Euphrates River. But within a matter of hours, clashes broke out between the Syrian “rebels” mobilized by Turkey and the YPG. An FSA spox said over the weekend that its forces had seized 10 villages from YPG troops and four from Daesh. Turkey claimed to have killed 25 Kurdish “terrorists” in a series of bombing raids near Jarablus, and the first Turkish casualty was reported in connection with a grenade attack by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces.
The anti-Kurdish character of Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation was underscored Saturday when video footage was released of members of the Sultan Murat brigade, a pro-Turkish Syrian “rebel” group, beating Kurdish prisoners in the village of Yusuf Beg and declaring them to be “PKK dogs.” Washington’s readiness to throw its weight behind such sectarian forces reflects its contempt for the region’s peoples and stands as an indictment of all those who argue, in the name of “human rights,” that Pindostan should intervene more aggressively in the conflict. The Pindo double-cross of its Kurdish allies underscores the fact that Washington’s chief consideration is the consolidation of its geo-strategic dominance of the Middle East through the installation of a puppet regime in Damascus. Following talks with Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, Jackass Kerry stressed that the Kurds had to remain part of Syria. He pointedly added, less than 48 hours after the initiation of the Turkish invasion:
We are for a united Syria. We do not support an independent Kurd initiative. Pindo support for Kurdish forces had been limited. We understand the sensitivities of our friends in Turkey with respect to this.
The intervention of what is in effect a NATO force into Syria heightens the potential for a direct clash between Russia and Pindostan, which could quickly spiral out of control and draw in the other major imperialist powers. Following the talks between Jackass and Lavrov, which failed to reach any resolution, the Russian foreign minister took a swipe at Pindostan and the Turkish incursion by noting that only Russia and Iran were operating inside Syria with the consent of the government. All other forces in the conflict, Lavrov said, were in violation of Syrian sovereignty. At a briefing Friday, White House spox Josh Earnest sought to blame Russia and the Syrian government for the ongoing violence in the country, even though US forces were behind the latest Turkish escalation. Earnest stated:
As long as Russia is willing to support the Assad regime’s murderous military tactics that often claim the lives of innocent women and children, the more difficult it is for a political solution to be reached.
He added later that Russia’s actions “only fuel extremism” in Syria. In response to a question on the creation of so-called safe zones within Syria, Earnest denied that this was being considered as a policy option by the Obama administration because it would require additional military forces. This was thoroughly disingenuous, given that Washington is backing a Turkish operation whose explicit goal is the creation of a zone in northern Syria controlled by Turkish troops. Violence continued to spread within Turkey following a bomb attack Friday by PKK-aligned militants, which killed 11 Turkish police officers and wounded 78 people. PKK rebels launched a grenade attack on the airport in Diyarbakir Sunday, and a Turkish soldier and 10 PKK militants were killed in clashes in Hakkari province. Speaking at a rally Sunday in Gaziantep, 30 km from the Syrian border, Erdogan made clear that Turkey’s intervention would be a long and bloody one. He indicated that Ankara would not distinguish between the PKK, with which it has been in a virtual state of war since last year, and the YPG in Syria. After vowing to wipe out Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Erdogan declared:
We are as determined about the PYD [Democratic Union Party], the separatist terror organisation’s Syrian wing. … We will continue until we uproot this terror organisation.
There has been a virtual blackout of the dramatic escalation of the Syrian conflict in the Pindo media and it has not been raised as a major issue by either candidate of the two big business parties in the presidential election campaign. News coverage of Syria on Sunday focused on reports accusing the Assad regime of dropping barrel bombs on a civilian neighborhood in “rebel” occupied Aleppo, while the killing of civilians by Turkish forces was passed over in virtual silence. Hillary Clinton, who enjoys the overwhelming backing of the military and intelligence establishment, has left no doubt about her readiness to vastly intensify Pindo military operations in Syria after November, even if this means direct confrontation with Russia. CNAS, which was co-founded by Michele Flournoy, a former Defense Dept official who is reportedly on the short list for the Sec Def position in a Clinton administration, called in June for a future Pindo administration to authorize military strikes against Assad’s forces.