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Our honorable sacrifices in Syria deserve justice

Syrian Kurdish leader Aldar Xelil argues that a Turkey-run safe zone in northern Syria would undermine the sacrifices that have brought relative stability to the region

Aldar Xelil

There is no matter in the Syrian situation which requires less debate than the obvious truth that the Turkish state nurtures terrorism, deliberately preventing the return to a unified, whole Syria, and preventing the stabilization of areas outside Turkish control.

Even the areas in which Turkey is present suffer from instability, which is what Turkey strives for in Syria. It is no surprise that we find Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking out about the danger of Islamic State, saying that Turkey is the country most capable of effectively fighting the terrorist group, especially given the rest of the world’s silence in the face of Turkey’s support for ISIS and other extremist groups in Syria. That support continues only by virtue of Turkey’s relationships with countries which have the ability to stop it.

ISIS was situated along the Turkish border areas for a number of years. The border crossings between Syria and Turkey were closed after the Syrian crisis began, but they were subsequently opened between Turkey and ISIS.

So, need we question the matter?

Of course, Turkey was reaping lucrative results from exchanges with the group, the most profitable of them being the limitless supply of petroleum and other forms of Syrian wealth from Daesh to Turkey. This is what has made Turkey content to this day to prevent the end of Daesh.

On the other hand, Turkey has missed no opportunity to threaten the Syrian Democratic Forces, finally culminating in the announcement of a planned military assault on the positions of those very forces which are fighting to destroy ISIS. This is simply a strike at the growing stability in northeast Syria which has long dissatisfied Turkey as it seeks, indisputably, to reinforce chaos and destruction.

Erdogan claims the military operation will return northern Syria to its original inhabitants. But here, the formation of multi-ethnic political and military groups consisting of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians and others leave absolutely no doubt that the local ethnic identities found here are none other than historical and original. The native people of this region are focusing all their attention towards achieving its stability, after together giving their blood to protect their region and the world by confronting Daesh.

These people liberated the access points used by the extremists to deliver terror to the outside world – to the nations of Europe, and to America. Among the most important of these was Manbij – from there the terrorists traversed the border and passed into Turkish territory until the SDF liberated the city in 2016.

Those who contributed to the defense and liberation of this region from ISIS are none other than the sons of this region’s diverse peoples – the very same who are now trying to stabilize the region strive towards a modern democratic model.

After all these noble achievements, reached together in cooperation with the international Coalition, we are astonished that that there should be talk of a safe zone in northern Syria, and with a Turkish presence. After our sacrifices on behalf of the region and the world, it is unimaginable that we should be treated in this way.

Any international agreements which authorize Turkey to take this step to protect its national security as Erdogan claims, cannot be considered moral in the absence of any real, even minimal threats to Turkey. Our people are immersed in fighting terrorism. Turkey is the agitator, so why is the world silent as Turkey distracts us from putting an end to extremism with its threatening rhetoric?

Turkey now speaks of a security zone, but when Daesh was at the Turkish border, did it not pose a danger to Turkey at the time? Does ISIS pose the danger to Turkey, or does the SDF?

We do not think Turkey’s proposed role in guarding the border suits the developments on the ground. Rather, the proposal reflects Ankara’s real priorities of trade and investment, and the use of “security,” including the threat of ISIS, for political ends.

We are right, we have a vision, and we will defend our region at whatever cost, even if that cost is death. If that is the only option, then so be it.

But what will history say about those who turned to favor Turkey’s will over democracy in Syria?

There is no doubt history will speak of us as heroes, and will say that those who exploited these matters for political gain only contributed to the causes of injustice in the world. Their actions assert once again that justice is only relative, as Turkey claims its right to intervention on the basis of a “justice” that is very much in doubt.

As for the supposedly objective standards of justice and duty so long proclaimed by the world, they are but theoretical slogans of no use beyond opportunistic exchanges, and for instilling in the minds of people through gratuitous narratives which really signify nothing.


Aldar XelilAldar Xelil is a Syrian Kurdish leader and TEV-DEM Foreign affairs official.

Follow him on Twitter: @Xelilaldar


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