The White house released a statement from the press secretary on October 7th, declaring that “Turkey will soon be moving forward with it’s long-planned operation in northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”
The statement does not describe what the “long-planned operation” by Turkey will be, but it is widely considered to be an attack on the democratic Kurdish region of Rojava, which could lead to a resurgence of ISIS. The Rojava defense forces, the YPG and YPJ have been a major factor in the defeat of ISIS and had the backing of the United States and other western powers, until recently.
The people of Rojava gained fame in delivering ISIS it’s first major defeat, in the city of Kobanê. As the Islamic State forces began to attack the city a call went out to the Kurdish people in that region, who banded together and pushed the Islamic State back. This is when the US led coalition took notice of the group and began to supply them with small arms and ammunition, fighting together against a common enemy.
As ISIS was pushed further back, the buildings began to be rebuilt and a democracy began to grow – a democracy that hoped to spread throughout the Middle East and end decades of dictatorships throughout the region. As the predominantly Kurdish forces pushed the Islamist regime back, they developed one of the most democratic and egalitarian societies on the planet.
The governance structure in Rojava rises from the ground up, starting with local meetings to identify issues and address them at the local community level if possible. Next there are Cantons, which mix the roles of provincial and federal governments addressing the needs of a certain region, but also handling external trade and foreign affairs. Each Canton is independent, but also must work together with the others. Rojava, formally called the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, also puts a strong importance on ensuring women’s equality in society with every local assembly having a group tasked specifically with monitoring the needs and issues of the women in the area.
Throughout the battle against ISIS Turkey has sought to attack and limit the gains of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the army largely responsible for defeating ISIS and ending their genocides. Turkey conducted extensive bombing campaigns against areas controlled by the SDF, as well as attacking and taking control of the Afrin Canton shortly after the official declaration of the defeat of ISIS. The Turkish state has had a long history of violence towards the Kurdish people (which make up a very large part of Rojava’s society) since Kurdish people in the south of Turkey started to call for their independence in the late 70’s.
Turkey began it’s attack on Oct 9th by occupying several border villages and bombing vast swaths of the region, targeting not only military installations, but also residential neighbourhoods, hydroelectric dams, and detention facilities housing thousands of suspected and confirmed ISIS terrorists. So far, dozens of civilians have perished due to indiscriminate Turkish bombing and the war crimes of the Turkish-backed factions TFSA and SNA, which include among their ranks confirmed ISIS and Al-Qaeda militants. Turkey’s justification for this invasion emphasizes their perceived need to “adjust the demographics” of the region, clarifying their plan to displace hundreds of thousands of Kurdish people from the area and replace them with a Syrian Arab population, a goal that meets the United Nations’ official definition of ethnic cleansing.
This attack has brought nothing more then verbal condemnation from supposedly pro-democratic western countries like Canada. While political leaders let politics get in the way of ethics the YPG continue to fight for their freedom and to be an inspiration that has attracted people from all over the world to fight beside them and assist with the rebuilding of the region.
*UPDATE* Canada has since announced it will suspend arms sales to Turkey