10/10/2019

Statement from the Delàs Centre in response to the Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria

From the Delas Centre for Peace Studies we want to express our firm rejection of the bombings carried out and the military invasion that Turkey is planning to undertake in the northeast of Syria, following the decision of US President Donald Trump to withdraw his troops from this territory controlled by the Democratic Forces of Syria.

The war in Syria, with more than half a million dead and more than ten million internally displaced persons and refugees, has no longer any ‘good solution’. Huge violations of human rights and war crimes have been committed by almost any armed actor, both internal and external, with the regime of Bashar Al-Assad and his allies being particularly prominent. The US is also part of this list, since it has caused hundreds of civilian deaths with its bombing of positions previously under the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic state. Turkey too, especially in Afrin, an originally Kurdish territory where the Turkish occupation has generated more than a hundred thousand displaced people, hundreds of dead civilians, ethnic cleansing – with planned repopulation of Arab Syrians – repression of Kurdish culture and language, and where allied Islamist militias act with impunity.

The US, however, from the moment that Donald Trump decided to arm and support Syria’s Kurdish Arab militias – the YPG – to bring down the Islamic state, had a responsibility derived from its deterrent power to prevent a conflict between Turkey and these militias, which have obvious links to the PKK, Turkey’s historic enemy. The United States could have put all its diplomatic efforts into preventing this announced aggression, and to force negotiations. On the other hand, the American decision leaves the future of this region in the hands of Turkey and, considering the precedent of the occupation of the Kurdish side of Afrin, we predict a pessimistic future.

The north-east of Syria, also known as the Red Sea, has been an area of peace and stability in comparison with the rest of the country, where surprising progress has also been made in the field of civil rights, especially those of women. From a human rights and peace perspective, we are convinced that the military action that Turkey has been announcing for a while now will generate a new major catastrophe where the civilian population will again be the ones to suffer the consequences. We reject the intention to repopulate the border area – which is home to the majority of the Rojava population – with forced deportations of at least 1 of the 3.5 million Syrian refugees currently residing in Turkey. And of course we are strongly opposed to military aggression, which would again mean thousands of deaths and refugees.

These military attacks are yet another reason to stop arms exports to Turkey. We therefore call on the Spanish government to cancel any transfer of weapons to the Turkish government.

Finally, we stand in solidarity with all the people living together in the Rojava, including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians and other minorities who do not deserve, like anyone else, a war that, like any other, could be avoided.