Thursday, January 25, 2018

Turkish military offensive against Afrin : the Kurds are the victims of the contradictions between the imperialists

Turkish military offensive against Afrin : the Kurds are the victims of the contradictions between the imperialists

On Saturday 21 January, Turkey launched the ‘Olive Branch’ military operation against Afrin Canton in the isolated westernmost area of Rojava. This new offensive comes after ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ launched in the summer 2016 intended to prevent Afrin Canton from joining the rest of Rojava, which resulted in the Islamic rebels occupying a hundred-kilometre-wide stretch of land along the Turkish border.

This operation constitutes a new offensive by the Turkish State in its fight against the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG/YPJ [1], becoming a stage where all of the reactionary and imperialist forces in the region vie against each.

For years, Erdogan’s AKP has been waging an ruthless war against any organisation that supports the right to self-determination of the Kurdish people in Turkey, with arrests, imprisonments, war and massacres.

This is well known by the European and American imperialist forces who all choose to turn a blind eye for two main reasons. Firstly, Turkey is a member of NATO and its geographic position makes it a key strategic ally in the region in the short and especially the medium and long-term. 

Secondly, millions of refugees pass through Turkey as they flee the war and the misery wreaked by the Syrian conflict, making it important bargaining chip for the European Union who has handed over responsibility for the flow of refugees to Turkey.

This military offensive in Afrin Canton could never have taken place without the blessing of Russian imperialism. In fact, the integrity of the Kurdish enclave was only ensured thanks to Putin’s and the Russian army and air base. While the exact reasons behind this agreement remain unknown, two factors jump to mind.

Firstly, it is in Russia’s interest to weaken the Kurdish forces tactical aligned at the time with America, as is also the case for the Iranian regime with its own Kurdish minority. 

Secondly, in October 2017 the Kurdish forces seized control of the oilfields in Deir ez-Zor, refusing to surrender them to the forces of Bashar al-Assad’s regime last week, just as they refused to allow them to take control of the border between Rojava and Turkey. 

That is why Putin is playing both sides : allowing the Turks to invade Afrin, whilst at the same time inviting the Kurds sit down with the rest of the parties at the Sochi Conference for the peace talks set for 30 January this year. 

In other words, a huge blackmail campaign against the Kurds designed to put Rojava under the control of Bashar al-Assad, thereby effectively bringing it under Russian control.

At the same time, the role of the US-led international coalition also comes into play (with French support) by backing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an Arabic-Kurdish military coalition led by the YPG/YPJ. Erdogan’s regime saw the announcement made by the group and the arming of a sizeable Kurdish contingent in Rojava by the US in an attempt to secure control of the Turkish-Syrian border as a deliberate provocation. 

And even if the SDF are allied with the USA for the time being, they are still more than ready to sacrifice Afrin in order to preserve their strategic alliance with Turkey. In this context, France likes to give the impression of a mediator, calling for calm whilst at the same time refusing to go against its Turkish ally.

The PYD and the SDF have reached an arrangement that will eventually be abandoned by one or the other. Just like the Americans, the Russian imperialists seek to rein Rojava into their sphere of influence to serve their interests. Because Rojava remains far too politically independent for their liking, they are both ready to give it up to the ethnic cleansing and the massacres carried out by the Turkish army and the fascist and Islamic militias in their wake.

While criticising the strategic aim of the PYD [2] and warning against the serious risks hanging over its alliance with the United States [3], we do not tar all of the players with the same brush.

 The PYD enjoys the support of many Turkish revolutionary organisations and continues to provide a progressive outlook for the region.

In the light of this situation, we have a two-fold duty. On the one hand, we must above all combat and unmask the role played by imperialism, especially French imperialism, in the region and make it clear that it is an enemy of the peoples in the region who have nothing to gain from it. And, on the other hand, we must support the forces on the ground that are fighting against the military occupation of Afrin and which uphold a project of emancipation. 

This is the case of the International Freedom Battalion, and primarily the TKP/ML-TIKKO and the MLKP [4], who have recently announced their intention to deploy forces in Afrin Canton. It is our internationalist duty to support them both politically and materially [5] !

No to the Turkish military occupation of Afrin ! Down with imperialism !

Long live Afrin ! Kurdistan will win !

En français : ICI

[1] The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units/Women’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ), the sister organisation of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
[2] For more on Democratic Confederalism, see :
[3] For more on the imperialist interventions in Syria and Kurdistan, see :
[4] TKP/ML : Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist–Leninist and its armed branch TIKKO. MLKP : Marxist-Leninist Communist Party.
[5] Take part in the support campaign :


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