Kurds have been betrayed, but Turkey could lose more
This move against Kurds will drain Turkey's economy and could stoke riots in the country.
The Kurds cannot be blamed for believing that the whole world is turning their back on them, especially since US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out American troops from northeast Syria. The decision gave freedom to Turkey to launch its third military operation there.
The spokesperson of the Kurdish self-administration, Kamal Akef, notes, "There are unrevealed Turkish plans behind this aggression and these plans will divide the Syrian people. This could reactivate the sleeping cells of Daesh, which will have an impact not only in Syria but the whole region especially in the absence of a political solution in Syria."
Akef is right to highlight the "unrevealed" Turkish plans. However, it is obvious now that while the Turkish air force and artillery is targeting several frontal localities in northern Syria such as Ras El Ain, Tel Al Abyad, Qamichli, Ayn Issa, and Kobane, their aim is to throw thousands of civilians out of their homes. They plan to create 'safe zones' in the Kurdish-led areas for millions of Syrian refugees, many of whom are presently in Turkey.
Turkey is suffering from refugee fatigue. Its economy is plagued with high inflation since 2018. The debt levels are on the rise, and its currency lira has been losing its value.
But Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to forget that a buffer zone costs money and he has no financial support or means to create one. Also, he cannot rely on the European Union, US, or any country from the Gulf to finance such a project.
So this targeted and calculated purge against Kurds and also against some Christian minorities in the region such as Assyrians and Armenians communities will drain Turkey's economy and could stoke internal riots.
On another side, one must not forget that the Syrian Kurds are Syrian civilians. They represent 15 per cent of the Syrian population (their estimated number is between 1.6 and 2.5 million) and during this whole Syrian conflict, they remained committed to Syria. The official statements of the Syrian Democratic Forces have always emphasised on terms such as self-administration but never mentioned secession from Syria.
While Trump's administration turned its back on protecting the minorities of this region, today more than ever these minorities must be saved from the Turkish aggression. The have become more marginalised, more despised, more oppressed.
The Syrian government has a duty to protect its Assyrians, Syriacs, Chaldeans, Armenians, and of course Kurdish citizens.
The Turkish invasion seem to want to take over of a 120km strip of land on the Syrian-Turkish border.
It is surprising how quickly the world has forgotten the contributions made by Kurds. They have been vital players in the fight against Daesh. Without the support of Kurds, the extremist group could have continued to advance its caliphate and spread its tentacles regionally. The SDF has around 3,000 members of Daesh in their custody. They have been able to extract and record testimonies from leaders and members of Daesh, which could have a damning effect on a number of countries. According to Daesh members, some countries financed and facilitated movement of foreign fighters in both Syria and Iraq.
These countries now claim to lead operations in the name of peace, but they have been ambassadors of death and chaos in the region. Moreover, any state that supports Muslim Brothers' ideology is a messenger of terrorism.
The Kurds who kept relying on the United States for protection are realising more than ever the meaning of the Kurdish proverb: "Kurds have no friends but the mountains."
But another alternative is presenting and that is to open a communication channel with Russia who can offer them protection in return of having a say in the Kurdish areas.
Also, it is urgent that the international community pushes to establish a no-fly zone as Kamal Akef said: "A no-fly zone and a ban of the Turkish airplanes in northeast Syria will have a positive impact as the Kurds do not fear the field confrontation. We are ready to repel the attack but we cannot do much against Turkish airplanes. Not banning the Turkish airplanes would be a real disaster."
Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut