Kurds protest at the United Nations building in Beirut, Lebanon, on 11 October 2019 against Turkey’s attacks on Syria. Photograph: Wael Hamzeh/EPA

Future historians might remember Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, launched last week, as the second time that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan provided Islamic State with a lifeline, intentionally or not. The first was when Turkey opened its borders to foreign jihadists entering Syria, which ultimately enabled Isis to build a caliphate the size of Britain in 2014.

Both the time and manner of the intervention risk unravelling the situation in Syria beyond the buffer zone that Turkey intends to establish in the north-east. It will take the pressure off extremist forces and disturb a delicate equilibrium and the relative quiet that have existed in the country for about two years.…  Seguir leyendo »

A mourner cries during the funeral of ten-month-old Mohammed Omar Saar, killed during incoming shelling from Syria Thursday, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, at the border with Syria, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

It’s easy, especially thousands of miles away, to jump onto the bandwagon of Turkey-blamers following its recent military incursion into Syria. However, Ankara has legitimate reasons for its actions. Its own national security as well as creating a sustainable solution for the Syrian refugee problem are at stake.

Turkey is not the only actor to be blamed for the mess in Syria. Major mistakes by Washington and Brussels have significantly contributed to the problem. However, Turkey, having a long border with Syria, suffers more from the instability in Syria and must act in order to secure its territory.

The United States made major mistakes in Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

As airstrikes and artillery rain down on civilians in northeastern Syria, it’s clear that Turkey’s claims that its recent military offensive is about taking the lead in the global fight against the Islamic State are nothing but dangerous propaganda.

For years, Turkey’s government allowed Islamic State fighters to cross its territory into Syria. But, before Monday, there were no Islamic State fighter elements along Turkey’s border with Syria because Kurds, Arabs and Christians expelled them with help from the U.S. military. Today, these U.S. allies are running for their lives.

Under the guise of fighting terrorism and “securing” the border, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s real plan is to remove Kurds from that border and radically re-engineer local demographics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey-backed Syrian fighters cross into Syria as part of an offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas on Friday. (Nazeer Al-Khatib/Afp Via Getty Images)

As airstrikes and artillery rain down on civilians in northeastern Syria, it’s clear that Turkey’s claims that its recent military offensive is about taking the lead in the global fight against the Islamic State are nothing but dangerous propaganda.

For years, Turkey’s government allowed Islamic State fighters to cross its territory into Syria. But, before Monday, there were no Islamic State fighter elements along Turkey’s border with Syria because Kurds, Arabs and Christians expelled them with help from the U.S. military. Today, these U.S. allies are running for their lives.

Under the guise of fighting terrorism and “securing” the border, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s real plan is to remove Kurds from that border and radically re-engineer local demographics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Can anyone make sense of President Donald Trump’s Syria policy, other than Donald Trump?

Not much will bring senior Republicans to push back against Trump, but his decision to pull American forces out of Syria has drawn condemnation from three grandees of the GOP: Sen. Lindsey Graham, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

And for good reason: Pulling the 1,000 or so American forces out of Syria makes no sense.

Those troops are not there on a combat mission but only in an advisory role to prevent the return of ISIS and also to provide some US leverage over events in Syria, whose regime is supported by Russia and Iran.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le 7 septembre 2015, en pleine crise des réfugiés en Europe, l’éditorial d’Ibrahim Karagül, rédacteur en chef du journal pro-Erdogan Yeni Safak, portait le titre suivant : « Ouvrez les portes, que les millions se déversent sur l’Europe ». Aux yeux de l’éditorialiste, repris à plusieurs reprises par Erdogan lui-même, la première guerre mondiale, qui aurait eu pour seul objectif d’anéantir l’Empire ottoman, continuait, avec ses batailles décisives encore à venir. Et ces batailles allaient être lancées par la Turquie, enfin prête à prendre sa revanche sur l’Occident, cet ennemi « ontologique » ayant perdu depuis sa « virilité ».…  Seguir leyendo »

Les dictatures et les autocraties en déclin précipitent souvent leur chute par des aventures militaires hasardeuses. En prenant le risque de s’enliser en Syrie, le président turc, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pourrait avoir fait le pas de trop et accélérer la fin de son règne autocratique. Largement condamné par la communauté internationale, combien de temps peut-il espérer continuer cette offensive quand bien même son pays, de par sa position géostratégique, continue d’être pour les Occidentaux un allié essentiel ?

L’armée turque occupe déjà la zone d’Al-Bab depuis août 2016 et celle d’Afrin depuis janvier 2018. Cette troisième opération, baptisée « Source de paix », a été rendue possible par l’annonce inattendue de Donald Trump, le 6 octobre, du retrait immédiat des militaires américains de leurs postes d’observation près des villes syriennes de Tel Abyad et Ras Al-Aïn, le long de la frontière.…  Seguir leyendo »

In an erratic attempt to justify his decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria and open the way for a Turkish military incursion, President Trump said recently that Turkey and the Kurds are “a natural enemy” and that “one historian said they’ve been fighting for hundreds of years.”

Both assertions are dangerously wrong.

As Turkish tanks roll into Syria to take territory from U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters, I worry about the long-term effect of Trump’s reductionist understanding of our region of the world. I worry about rising nationalism in Turkey. I worry about the further tightening of free speech under our beleaguered democracy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Not that long ago, the people of northeastern Syria were greeting U.S. troops as our saviors, as the torchbearers of freedom. Children gathered around the American visitors and expressed joy at the hope they were bringing for the future of our lands. Now those same Syrian children may face death amid the chaos of a new conflict.

This week, as we now know, President Trump spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan has long made his plans for northeastern Syria clear. He wants to occupy a 19-mile-wide belt of territory along the border and to radically transform its demographics, replacing the Kurdish population there with 3 million Syrian Arab refugees from cities across Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rien n’y a fait. Ni l’indignation de l’opinion mondiale. Ni l’incompréhension des militaires, des diplomates, des représentants démocrates et républicains américains. Ni, en France, le président Macron qui a reçu, à l’Elysée, mardi soir, quelques heures avant l’attaque, une délégation venue du Kurdistan syrien à qui il a redit la solidarité de la France. L’impensable est arrivé.

Le président turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan a lancé, ce mercredi 9 octobre, en fin d’après-midi, son offensive contre le Kurdistan syrien. Cet homme fut, pendant les années de la guerre contre Daech [l’organisation Etat islamique], le passeur en chef des milliers de djihadistes ralliant le « califat » via la Turquie.…  Seguir leyendo »

During a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, President Trump agreed to transfer the leadership of the counter-Islamic State campaign to Turkey. The Turkish military, together with the Free Syrian Army, will cross the Turkish-Syrian border shortly.

George Washington famously said that America must “steer clear of permanent alliances.” American officials have been saying for years that their partnership with the terrorist organization Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s Syrian affiliate, People’s Protection Units (or YPG), in the fight against the Islamic State was “tactical.” Trump’s latest decision reflects that view.

Like the United States, Turkey does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les camps syriens, bombes à retardement» jihadistes

Ils sont six, installés dans le nord-est de la Syrie, sur le territoire des Forces démocratiques syriennes (FDS), une alliance arabo-kurde soutenue par la coalition internationale. Six camps, qui hébergent près de 100 000 personnes. Surtout des déplacés, c’est-à-dire des Syriens qui ont fui les régions les plus marquées par le conflit dans leur pays pour trouver refuge dans des zones plus calmes. On en compte au total 6,5 millions. Les réfugiés – ceux qui ont quitté la Syrie – sont quant à eux 5 millions, principalement installés dans les pays voisins : la Turquie, le Liban, la Jordanie et l’Irak surtout.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Syrian Central Bank building in 2008. Photo: Getty Images.

The Syrian currency depreciated by 11% between mid-August and the first week of September, to reach an unprecedented level of SYP692 to the US dollar. According to the government, the main reasons behind this collapse are the international sanctions imposed on Syria and currency speculation.

Accordingly, the government has forced speculators and local foreign exchange companies to sell the US dollar instead of holding it. Moreover, Syrian security agencies have pressured profiteers with close links to the regime to effectively participate in campaigns that support the local currency. Indeed, the Syrian pound appreciated in value in only a few days to reach an average of SYP615 for $1 in the second week of September.…  Seguir leyendo »

People search for victims under the rubble of buildings that were hit by airstrikes in the northern Syrian town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, in a photo released last month by the opposition Syrian Civil Defense rescue group, also known as White Helmets. (AP)

The crisis of Western values has many aspects, many faces. There is a decline in faith in liberal democracy, a loss of confidence in universal human rights, a collapse in support for all kinds of transnational projects. There is a constitutional crisis brewing in London. There is a president who defies democratic norms in Washington. There are challenges to the free press and independent judges in democracies everywhere, from Budapest to Manila.

But this same crisis — this same loss of Western self-confidence, this same collapse of faith in ideals — also has a bloodier, more violent face. That face is the ongoing war in Syria — or rather the slow, grinding, murderous endgame of the war in Syria.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman and an infant at Al Hol, a camp for displaced people in northeastern Syria in July.CreditCreditDelil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

No one thought baby Ibrahim was going to make it.

The 18-month-old boy, Belgian by birth, was malnourished, dehydrated, and vomiting every half an hour from a stomach bug. In Al Hol, the refugee camp in northeast Syria where he was staying, the heat regularly reached a relentless 100 degrees by midmorning, there was scant medical care, and fresh water, when it arrived, usually teemed with bacteria. Video of Ibrahim, listless and throwing up, had made its way from this desolate desert patch of Syria to his aunts in Belgium, who had shared it with doctors there. “I’m going to be honest, this baby is going to die,” one said.…  Seguir leyendo »

Smoke rises from a blaze at a vehicle gathering point for civilians fleeing from the south of Idlib province after a government bombardment in the village of Maar Shurin in northwestern Syria on Aug. 25. (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images)

By most accounts, the Syrian civil war seems to be winding down, with the exception of the Kurdish stronghold in the north. Rebel fighters have been almost entirely backed into a final stronghold in Idlib province, without a feasible strategy to fight back against the regime.

In the post-Cold War era, this situation would typically be accompanied by a renewal of diplomatic efforts to end the war. But peace talks appear to have stalled alongside the conflict. Instead, the war seems to be ending via a slow surrender by a fractured insurgency.

A slow surrender in Syria

The changing nature of the more than 80 cease-fire agreements that have sprinkled the conflict show the slow process of rebel surrender.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dans la période difficile que connaît actuellement le nord-est de la Syrie, la position et le rôle de la France sont d’une importance cruciale pour nous, Kurdes, Arabes et chrétiens qui avons vaincu l’EI et libéré toute cette région de son joug.

Daesh représentait un immense danger pour la Syrie et le Moyen-Orient, mais aussi pour le reste du monde. C’est pourquoi la France a été victime – comme d’autres pays – du terrorisme et que nombre d’innocents ont péris dans les attentats menés sur son sol. C’est grâce à nos victoires militaires – celles des Forces démocratiques syriennes – et aux 36 000 tués et blessés dans nos rangs pendant les sept années de cette guerre terrible, que la défaite de l’EI a pu être annoncée officiellement le 23 mars.…  Seguir leyendo »

Displaced Syrians who fled from their villages in the south of Idlib province to escape bombing by Syrian government forces return home shortly before a truce fell apart between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad's regime, on Sunday. (Aaref Watad/AFP/Getty Images)

In April, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) discussed centralizing aid operations for Syria to Damascus. While no decision was formally made, various donor states protested the suggested action, which would result in the closure of OCHA’s humanitarian coordinator position in Amman, dealing a significant blow to the cross-border humanitarian operation.

Humanitarian actors in intrastate conflicts across the globe increasingly find themselves caught between the interests of competing political and military interests of states, complicating the implementation of relief actions. In Myanmar and Yemen, the obstruction of humanitarian access and delivery of aid to civilians in need has become a primary tactic of states to battle and defeat opposition forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

Earlier this month, Syria saw its most extensive security reshuffle since the bombing of the National Security Bureau headquarters in July 2012. More than half-a-dozen intelligence heads were appointed, promoted or retired, and more than 50 officers were transferred within the Ministry of Interior. Some might see this high-level and wide-ranging reshuffle as evidence of President Bashar al-Assad’s supremacy over the security apparatus. However, there are strong indications that Bashar’s control is far more constrained.

As it transitions from recapturing opposition territory to reasserting the state’s dominance in much of the country, Damascus faces challenges from its own security apparatus, empowered and enlarged after eight years of conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mientras el mundo se preocupa por un posible conflicto entre Estados Unidos e Irán, el derramamiento de sangre en Siria está escalando nuevamente. El régimen del presidente sirio, Bashar al-Assad, ha intensificado su ataque contra el bastión opositor todavía en pie en la provincia de Idlib, donde viven unos tres millones de personas, incluidas muchas que han tenido que desplazarse internamente. Para evitar una nueva pesadilla humanitaria y otro éxodo masivo de refugiados, Estados Unidos debe renovar sus esfuerzos para alcanzar la paz.

Desde que la coalición respaldada por Estados Unidos de fuerzas (esencialmente) kurdas logró desmantelar el califato territorial de Estado Islámico (EI), Estados Unidos ha comenzado a retirarse de Siria.…  Seguir leyendo »