Since 9th October, the Turkish army attacks on North Syria have already killed hundreds. Towns and cities in Syrian Kurdistan are bombed constantly. At least 130,000 people have already fled the combat zone. And the war can only grow with Syrian dictator Assad sending troops to protect his territory from the Turkish invasion.
While Trump, the great master of the wars in that area, is satisfied to remove his troops and let Erdogan slaughter the Kurds, calls by Angela Merkel and Emanuel Macron to preach moderation to the Turks are just as hypocritical. They cannot distract from the fact that Erdogan has always been their friend and that they have, under the leadership of their great American ally, some responsibility in all of the Middle East bloody wars.
This Turkish attack is not the first of its kind. The Turkish army had already fought Kurdish troops in Afrin, North Syria. It has been occupying this town since 2018. In 2015-16, the army also intervened in Kurdish areas of Turkey to squash the will of the Kurdish people to fight for their rights.
Erdogan, in power since 2003, has put opponents, militants and journalists in jail, sends police and army against protesters, whether those are workers, Kurdish, or the young people of Taksim square. He has unions under his thumb and breaks strikes as he will, for the greater benefit of multinationals like Bosch and Renault, which have factories in Turkey.
This has caused him a few setbacks, particularly in the Istanbul local elections that his candidate lost in March 2019 and then again in June after Erdogan had had the first election annulled. His military attack today is also a means to cover this humiliation and to try and develop anti-Kurd nationalism that could hit back at the whole Turkish working class.
Macron appears to keep his distances with Erdogan, who has become an embarrassing ally. Macron announced France would stop selling weapons to Turkey, but that is just temporary, and does not apply to all weapons.
In 2016, the European Union made a deal for the Turkish state to stop Syrian refugees to cross into Europe. Turkey received a few billion euros for putting Syrian migrants in camps.
The great powers’ bloody turnaround
During the Syrian war, US and France found a convenient ally: the Kurdish organisations in Syria, which had taken control of an area of the country. This included YPG’s armed forces, now targeted by Erdogan. Faced with the development of the Islamic State, the great powers benefitted from this alliance, which provided them with troops on the ground, while they bombed from the sky and thus only had to dispatch their secret services, military advisors and a limited number of soldiers.
But the nationalist leaders of the Syrian Kurdistan have, yet again, trapped their own people with this alliance that turns back on them. Trump and Macron drop their allies of yesterday without any hesitation, giving a free hand to Erdogan.
In the Middle East, more than Erdogan the dictator, the true rulers are the great world powers who make and break alliances, and lead wars either directly or through intermediaries. The goal is always to protect the interests of their big oil companies and their multinationals that overexploit workers there. Not to forget the interests of arm manufacturers, who keep selling their deadly craft to all the regional dictators, from Turkey to Egypt to Saudi Arabia.