Beginning on Saturday, January 20, 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered his military together with allied elements of the Free Syrian Army to begin a major assault on the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region, the northwestern part of the Democratic Confederation of Northern Syria, otherwise known as Rojava. Though preceded by two days of preparatory shelling, the attack commenced with heavy bombardment by 72 aircraft of over 150 targets in Afrin, including the city center. As of Sunday morning, January 21st, Turkish ground troops and tanks have started to invade. This aggression, which clearly violates the Nuremberg Principles on war, comes days after the Trump Regime announced it would begin training a 30,000-strong “Syrian Border Security Force” among Kurds in Northern Syria to block infiltration to resurrect Da’esh (ISIS/ISIL). Hence, while the Orwellian-termed “Operation Olive Branch” launched by Erdoğan seeks to crush the Kurdish Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (People’s Protection Units, YPG) and the allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for being supposed affiliates of the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê (Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK), against which the Turkish State has been at war for more than three decades, this assault also targets the Syrian Kurds as a people.
According to Hawzhin Azeez of the Kobane Reconstruction Board of Rojava, the initial aerial bombardment indiscriminately struck civilian areas, and FSA fighters, who reportedly speak only Turkish, captured by the SDF/YPG report that they have come to “kill all the Kurds” of the region. Considering that the Turkish State has cut off all cellular and internet coverage in the area, and in light of the recent Russian withdrawal of forces from the region, there is a grave risk of nationalist massacres against the Kurdish civilian population, both as part of the strategy against the SDF/YPG, and also as reprisal, should the latter be pushed back or defeated. On Saturday, Erdoğan declared that the attack on Afrin, if “successful,” would be followed by a new campaign against Manbij. See a map of northwestern Syria/southwestern Turkey below:
Yellow = SDF/YPG Turquoise = Turkish military/Free Syrian Army Red = Assad Regime Green = anti-Assad rebels
Now that Da’esh (ISIS/ISIL) has nearly been defeated, with Raqqa and Mosul both having fallen at great cost in human life, the SDF/YPG have lost much of its utility to world powers. This explains how readily Russia abandoned its military bases in the Afrin region to accommodate Erdoğan’s war-drive, and how weak protests have been from the Trump Regime thus far.
Though the Rojava Revolution has its contradictions, as seen in these very ties between the Kurds and U.S. and Russian imperialists—bonds that now appear to be breaking down—we must defend Afrin! The gains and hopes of the Rojava Revolution, including democratic self-administration, feminism, and communalism, depend upon it! We must resist Erdoğan, a neoliberal authoritarian who fantasizes about resurrecting the Ottoman Empire through genocide of the Kurds!
We call on all people of conscience to support actions in protest of this murderous military campaign being organized by diasporic Kurdish communities and/or emergency demonstrations at Turkish consulates and embassies globally, as well as in Turkey itself. In Los Angeles, the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice (CPRSJ) endorses today’s 1:00pm emergency action outside the Federal Building in Westwood.