Battle line blurs as Turkey assaults Afrin

Farooque Chowdhury

Turkey’s assault on Afrin for the last few weeks has made it difficult to define a battle line in the imperialism-intervened Syria. The people in Afrin are experiencing death and destruction as Turkey is bombing and bombarding Afrin, yet a part of Syria. The Kurdish people in Afrin are being driven to caves and basements. And, the sectarian rights-mongers are silent on the massacre of the Kurdish people and flagrant violation of a sovereign country’s – Syria’s – boundary.

Citing the UN, a CNN report on February 1, 2018 described relentless airstrikes and shelling on Afrin by Turkey:
Turkey’s cross-border military offensive against Kurdish militias has driven civilians living in the Syrian enclave underground. An estimated 16,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.

The “‘This is a massacre’: Turkey’s bombs drive families into caves” headlined report describes the reality as it cites residents from Afrin:
Deserted city-streets littered with crumpled cars, debris and gaping holes. “We don’t know where to go,” says 10 year-old Mohammed Khaled. “The airplane has been dropping bombs for five days now. All our homes are destroyed.” The UNICEF had to suspend child protection services there amid the violence. Um Muhammed, Khaled’s mother, asks why Turkish president Erdogan is bombing her people. “What did we do to him?” she says in Arabic. “We lost our homes, our children, nothing is left. Is not this a shame that children have to live like that? We are human beings, are we not? Why are they doing this to us?” “This is a massacre,” she adds, breaking down in tears. “Please convey our message, we are pleading with the international community to stop the killing of the civilians, stop the airstrikes and the war against us.”

The report by Waffa Munayyer, Joe Sterling and Eliza Mackintosh describes the life in Afrin:

“Kurdish families huddle on blankets in a dimly lit cave. Others hide in the rubble of a bombed-out building, gathered around a campfire. Those that have basements seek shelter there.”

The report cites a lady: “What are the planes wanting from us? What are they bombing us for? What do they want from the little children?”

It quotes a young girl named Yasmin. She went into hiding with her mother and her brothers after her father was killed: “It is really dark here. We are so scared because it is really noisy.” “They are conducting airstrikes. What did we do to them? We are just kids. Why is this our fault?” she asks.

The report describes Fatima Muhammed. Bundled in a red sweater and hair wrapped in a purple scarf, Fatima is among about a dozen civilians hiding out in the same cave. “We ended up in the caves ... we can’t go back to our homes, they are all destroyed,” she says. “What kind of a country strikes civilians in this manner?”

On January 31, 2018, Turkish army and armed members of Al-Nusra pounded Afrin with rockets. The target of the assault was Afrin’s largely civilian Ashrafia neighborhood. Civilians including children and the elderly were injured.

The CNN report cited Dr. Jawan Muhammed, general manager of the hospital in Afrin: “Right now we are overwhelmed with injured and killed civilians. Our hospital is unable to cope. Our surgery rooms are overwhelmed. We conduct 18 surgeries a day. We are using up all our medical supplies because of the overwhelming number of casualties as a result of indiscriminate airstrikes and artillery fire.”

The report also cites Hevi Mustafa, co-president of the executive council of Afrin: “Our soldiers are fighting fiercely. They took on the defense of Afrin themselves. We expected this attack on our areas because we are part of a democratic project and wanting to end the Syrian crisis in this project. Of course, the Turkish government, they don’t want to end the crisis in Syria.” Mustafa calls the Turkish attacks “barbaric”. She expressed the hope that the international community would hold the Turkish government accountable for the violence.

Weeks have passed since the Turkish assault began. Turkey launched the assault on January 20, 2018. But, the sectarian rights-mongers are silent on the Turkish assault on the Kurdish civilians. Does their silence expose their position?

The Turkish military campaign on Syrian land, sarcastically named Operation Olive Branch, has targeted Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). The Kurds’ struggle for a homeland appears a threat to the Ankara-rulers.

Turkish military campaign against Afrin has complicated the Syria-scene. The line of conflict has blurred as one finds, interestingly, Syria is standing by the homeland-seeking Kurdish people (YPG) while Turkey is making assaults on the Kurdish people (YPG), the US assures the YPG that it stands by them while tries to mend relations with Turkey, its NATO-ally, and is continuing with its intervention activities in Syria. Russia and Iran are extending support to Syria. Turkey is trying to procure important armament from Russia, which the NATO is not approving. There are proxies like the Free Syrian Army and Jabhat Fateh al Sham. At times, imperialism’s allies are fighting its allies, its proxies are fighting its proxies.  Proxies are getting support from the same imperialist source while are engaged with fighting among them. The same proxy is simultaneously being fought out and backed up by imperialism. Europe is not always in coherence with the US in the region of conflict.  

The main imperialist actor in the area of intervention – US – is finding it difficult to bring a balance in its position. Its strategic ally is turning into its tactical foe. In the further broader area – beginning from Saudi Arabia and Yemen to Egypt and Libya, and to Israel and Turkey – the US finds itself in a more complicated position. No region has found imperialism in such a position, which is now being experienced today in this region.

It’s an indicator of imperialism’s present difficult position in the changing situation, where all are not moving according to its plans and wishes. It’s a major difference between the days of imperialism’s Iraq-Libya interventions and its days of Syria-intervention. Proxies of imperialism should take this reality into their consideration: As a master, how much imperialism is reliable? But, the unfortunate fact is: Proxies have no option other than relying on its masters.

Farooque Chowdhury, writing from Dhaka, has not yet authored/edited any book dealing with non-earthly issues, and he does neither operate any blog/web site nor any facebook nor similar accounts.

Feb 27, 2018

Farooque Chowdhury

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