Students of Mehmet Akif College in Kosovo protest the arrest and deportation of their teachers in Pristina March 29, 2018. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

A few weeks ago, in a meeting with Turkish parliamentarians not long after President Trump’s announcement that U.S. special forces had killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that he regarded the U.S. president as a role model:

“Some countries eliminate terrorists whom they consider as a threat to their national security, wherever they are,” he said. “This means they accept that Turkey has the same right.” He then hinted about his target: “This includes the terrorists they shake hands with and praised. I hope we will have good news for the nation on this matter soon.”

This was a blatant announcement of an assassination in the works.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey’s October invasion of Syria forced the United States to withdraw from territory it de-facto controlled along the border and prompted the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to reach a narrow, security-focused arrangement with the Syrian regime to return to a series of towns and territory in the northeast. The Turkish armed forces have separately reached an agreement with the United States and Russia for a safe-zone, spanning the territory between Tel Abyad and Ras al Ayn and extending down to the M4 highway. This Turkish zone fall far short of Ankara’s original plan to take control over the entirety of the northeast, but prompted the Syrian Kurds to invite the regime and the Russian Federation back to territory Damascus had abandoned in 2012.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muhammed Nur /Anadolu Agency via Getty Images Members of the Syrian National Army participating in Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring, Ras al-Ayn district, northern Syria, October 13, 2019

A small Turkish flag was standing on the desk of the offices of the Turkish-backed faction in a residential area of Şanlıurfa, in southern Turkey. The men in the room, most of them veteran fighters from eastern Syria, were expecting me and did their best to locate a Syrian revolutionary flag in time for our meeting in the summer of 2019. They could not find one. Everything about the meeting, its location, décor, and content, indicated to me that the men in the room were not the ones in charge. They hoped soon to launch an offensive on northeastern Syria, but had no idea when the real decision-makers, Turkish officials, would give them their marching orders.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Fuat Oktay, Turkey’s vice-president, declared: ‘They said it was because of hunger – that’s not true. We do not have any information that the deaths were due to poverty.’’ Photograph: Alamy

Fatih is known as one of the most conservative districts of Istanbul. Last week some people in the area saw a note attached to the door of a flat: “Beware! There’s cyanide inside. Call the police. Don’t enter.” Whoever wrote the note had clearly wanted to protect the neighbours from a toxic substance. When the police arrived they found four bodies – two men, two women, aged between 48 and 60. The dead were all from the same family, the Yetişkins, who had been residents of the neighbourhood for decades. The siblings had, according to friends, also lived in unemployment and penury – the wages of one sister, a music teacher, used to keep creditors at bay.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gives a military salute during an address to parliament in Ankara on Oct. 30. (Burhan Ozbilici/AP)

Late one night in June, Nurcan Baysal, a Kurdish journalist and human rights defender, was watching TV at her home in Diyarbakir, in Turkey’s southeast. Her younger son was playing with Legos, and her oldest was busy with his phone. At half past midnight, a terrifying noise shook them all. At first they thought it was an earthquake, or perhaps a bomb. Baysal sent the boys back to their rooms and ran to the door.

Some 20 or so anti-terrorism officers were trying to break down her front door, which proved too solid; the walls cracked instead. She let the balaclava-clad agents wielding rifles in through the veranda door.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why did Turkey intervene in Syria? Most commentators are explaining this decision by referring to the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, andTurkey’s goal of removing the Kurdish militias — that control areas in northern Syria — from its border. Observers also are focusing on President Trump’s decision toabandon Kurdish allies.

What has been lost in the focus on U.S. foreign policy are the3.6 million Syrian refugees that reside in Turkey — the highest number of refugees hosted by any country in the world. The growing public dissatisfaction in Turkey with the presence of Syrian refugees is key to understanding the decision to launch the operation in Syria — an operation that aims atestablishing a safe zone where the refugees can be resettled.…  Seguir leyendo »

Delil Souleiman/AFP via Getty Images Mourners attending the funerals of Syrian Democratic Forces fighters killed in battles against Turkish forces, Qamishli, Syria, October 14, 2019

Qamishli, Syria—When my mom called to ask me where I was, I lied to her. Sometimes I do not want to worry her, as I’m often reporting on stories from places that aren’t safe. When she said, “Get ready to move,” I realized something was wrong. Qamishli was under attack. “Can’t you hear the shelling?” she screamed. She lives in Rimelan, a city an hour away, but she was here to visit my brother. The Turks were targeting my neighborhood, she said.

That was Wednesday afternoon, October 9, the first day of Turkey’s attack on Rojava, Western Kurdistan, as we call it in Kurdish.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’invasion par la Turquie du nord de la Syrie, peuplé par les Kurdes qui nous ont aidés à vaincre l’organisation Etat islamique (EI), justifierait qu’on l’expulse de l’OTAN non seulement par des considérations morales, mais aussi par une froide analyse de notre sécurité.

Les termes du cessez-le-feu provisoire, arrangé le 17 octobre entre la Turquie et les Etats-Unis, entérinent les buts militaires d’Erdogan : chasser les Kurdes de chez eux et annexer la moitié de Rojava. Ce que les Etats-Unis proposent maintenant aux Kurdes après les avoir abandonnés, c’est tout simplement de déguerpir, c’est-à-dire de laisser le terrain à l’occupant. Les Turcs le disent clairement : « Nous avons eu ce que nous voulions. …  Seguir leyendo »

Reajustes a la turca

La pausada pero persistente intervención turca en el norte kurdo de Siria podría recordar a la Operación Sol que lanzó Ankara contra el PKK a través de la frontera con Irak, de eso hace casi 11 años. La diferencia fundamental es que la zona de ataque de las dos brigadas mecanizadas turcas participantes en la actual Operación Manantial de Paz, como el resto de Siria, sigue en carne viva desde que comenzara la guerra civil, hace ya más de ocho años. Y que por el camino alumbró la contienda contra el denominado Estado Islámico, compartida con Irak. Todo ello atrajo una persistente intervención de grandes potencias y actores regionales y ahora mismo existe el temor de que la presión militar turca pueda llevar a punto de ebullición a toda la zona.…  Seguir leyendo »

Donald Trump walks from Marine One to Air Force One at Ocala International Airport on 3 October. Photo: Getty Images.

A tactical approach to Turkey has failed

Lindsay Newman

The US approach to Turkey under President Donald Trump has been tactical, consisting of a series of mixed signals.

In August 2018, the US imposed sanctions on several Turkish officials to pressure for the release of detained American pastor Andrew Brunson. With the Turkish lira plummeting, Brunson was released in October of that year.

In a separate incident, after squeezing Turkey economically, the US offered to work with Turkey in the investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But later, the White House considered reopening the case of the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, long sought by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a bid to convince Turkey to reduce pressure on Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi killing.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »

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 »