It has been more than a week since Turkey started its invasion of Syria. Even though president Erdogan calls it “saving the refugees” and “developing a safe zone”, international society can clearly see what is behind his behaviour and military action – Erdogan has a freeway for destroying Kurds as nationality and their culture, and we might see another genocide in the region very soon.
Turkey’s invasion has far more consequences that would be visible for the first sight. It is not only about a direct attack against Kurd’s units settled in North Syria among borders with Turkey. It is about destroying stable safety in the country. Turkey has mentioned several times about extending its territory and this particular part of Syria with Kurds is of its desire.
Kurds have been controlling the area not only in terms of defeating ISIS units but also in terms of controlling camps where these fighters and supporters have been held. As Kurds have to deal with the military threat from Turkey, they do not have a chance to manage security in the area anymore. What does it mean? It means that many fighters of ISIS and its supporters have escaped and started terrorist activities again, especially with cooperation with sleeping units that have been there the whole time, waiting for their chance. Moreover, other militias inspired by ISIS see this situation as a chance to build a new position within Syria. However, we should not forget about ISIS wives and children, who are in the camps too. They represent a very unpredictable threat for the whole of Europe as most of them are wives from Europe and want to come back without regretting their decision to be part of a terrorist group.
On Thursday the 17th of October, US Vice President Mike Pence announced that he and president Erdogan agreed on a ceasefire, which should be held for 5 days. However, the reason for this cease-fire is not to manage a final end of this conflict. The condition for ceasefire arisen by Turkey clearly says that all Kurds military units must leave the area and leave it to Turkey. Furthermore, Erdogan himself clarified the meaning of the cease-fire that it is just a pause between of continuation of fighting. Moreover, there was no promise or even a note about the withdraw of Turkey’s military units and equipment. It is more and more clear that Erdogan’s plan is to occupy this area.
The cease-fire is just between Turkey, the US, and Kurds, but is not binding for Russia or other states supporting Kurds and the regime of Asad. Also, there have been several small fights reported even after announcing the cease-fire as Kurds said that they will defend themselves in case of any threat or direct attack. Last hours also showed the use of chemical weapons – phosphorus munition – which is believed to be used by Turkey’s militias or its supporters against Kurds.
How long will the international community wait with a proper reaction? As far as we have been able to observe, Erdogan is the one who has the power and other international actors are just too frightened to do something. During his speeches which we could see last days, he showed no respect to the EU, NATO, or UN, and added more warnings and threats. I know that maybe it will be too strong to use this similarity, but did not we experience something similar in 1938/1939? Are we really accepting Erdogan’s behaviour? Are we in line with his decision-making and his operations? Is it not a time to start acting as a unified community through NATO and UN and make this necessary and crucial step to stop a dictator and not to allow him to abuse the situation in the Middle East and invade a neighbouring country?
Written by Tereza Novotná