Turkey’s support for Syrian rebels in Kurd killings may backfire

Turkey’s support for Syrian rebels in Kurd killings may backfire
Turkey is interested in destabilizing the situation in the Kurdish-populated areas in Syria, but its support of radical Islamists may lead to violence spilling to the Turkish territories, Kurdish and international experts told RT.

Tuesday’s unconfirmed report of 450 Kurdish deaths was accompanied by grisly footage of the massacre that took place in a region bordered on one side by an expanding Al-Qaeda, and on the other by Turkey – one of the staunchest opponents of Kurdish independence.

The alleged atrocities were condemned by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who urged the UN Security Council to put more effort into convincing Syrians to stop fighting each other and join forces to expel foreign terrorists from the country.

The Islamist attacks on Kurdish territories have become frequent in recent months, Hassan Muhammad, a representative of the Kurdish Democratic Union in Europe told RT.

“This is a planned campaign, and the militia is now blockading the Kurdish area,” he said. “It’s the worst in Ain Al-arab, which is surrounded by the Turkish border and, from three other sides, by terrorist battalions like Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant. We confirmed that terrorists have arrested hundreds of people, especially in Tel Hasel and Tel Aran, and there are still hundreds of people missing. Families, who reached us from Afreen told us about those crimes… those crimes are against humanity, and punishment must take place by international law.”

All that is happening, Hassan says, is not without the participation of “regional forces, especially Turkey… helping militants logistically and [opening] cross-border points for them to infiltrate Kurdish areas.”

Manuel Ochsenreiter, a German journalist covering Syria, says that “we have information from the Kurdish Popular Defense units who claim that [Al-]Nusra Front is also supported by Turkish intelligence – and I think this is not a coincidence when we know how Kurds are treated in Turkey.” 

Protestors flee as tear gas explodes in a field during a demonstration near Dicle University, in Diyarbakir, on April 9, 2013. Leftist Kurdish students protest after clashes between left and right-wing groups inside Dicle University. (AFP Photo / Mehmet Engin)

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party has sent a letter to the European Union with an appeal to step in and do something about the growing Islamist danger that threatens to engulf the entire country in its pursuit of supremacy.

“We call on the forces of goodness and peace and all lovers of democracy and freedom to cooperate with the Kurdish people to face this Salafi terrorist expansion in Syria generally, and in Kurdish areas specifically, and allow not to implement plans of establishing an Islamic Emirate with support of regional powers surrounding Syria, because that threatens not only the Kurdish Syrian people, but also international peace and security,” the letter said.

But Ochsenreiter believes that international condemnation and support will be limited and only issued in verbal form because, among other reasons, “Turkey is a very important NATO member.”

However, he does not share the view that ethnic cleansing of the Kurds is a grand objective of the operation. Instead, he claims that it is all for the most part a fight over spheres of influence in a very unstable country.

Turkey ‘realizing they need to act quickly’

Turkey, along with the Free Syrian Army and Islamic extremist groups, is making a concerted effort to push the Kurds into a more active role in the conflict from, which they had previously shied away, Karin Leukefeld, also a journalist who has just returned from Damascus, believes.

In doing so, they would also put at risk the Kurdish control of oil fields – an ownership that neither the Islamic extremists nor the outside actors are particularly thrilled about, he explained.

The escalation of violence in the Kurdish area in the northern part of Syria “doesn’t look good on Turkey,” Kurdish blogger and Middle East political risk analyst, Schwan Zulal, said.

“Slowly the Turkish government is realizing that they need to act quickly and swiftly and come in and try limiting these groups’ power in these areas,”
he stressed. “Let’s not forget about Iran in this equation, because Iran is very happy to revive the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] which is very close to PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party]. The uncertainty on the Turkish border can easily spill into Turkey and destabilize that area.”

“The picture is becoming very complex and it’s almost like a proxy war inside another proxy war is being fought in the area between one side east and west and on the other side between Iran and Turkey,” he added. 

A Syrian Kurdish refugee from the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, prepares a tea in a yard next a school used as a refugee camp in the northern city of Afrin on April 9, 2013. (AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff)

The plans of Al-Qaeda-linked rebels to establish an Islamic state on the Kurdish territories will never be fulfilled without the backing from “Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the other Gulf monarchs, including the Western states - the US, France and Britain,” an anti-war activist at the Answer Coalition, Richard Becker, believes.

“If they succeed in carving out a state in northern Syria, through which armaments could flow freely from Turkey and then the US can fly an armament to support these Jihadists then, it would prolong the massacre that is going on in Syria and this is what the Gulf States want to do,” he explained.

US ‘supporting Al-Qaeda-linked Jihadists massacring the people’

When RT asked State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, she had little to say, only repeating that the US “would always be concerned with any reports of attacks on civilians or any others of this kind.”

Becker claims the US foreign policy in the Middle East is currently dictated by “Senator John McCain and Saudi Arabia,” with main stream media leaving the American people in the dark on the real state of things in the region.

“Right now most of the Americans are very unclear about exactly what is going on,” he said. “Our media is keeping it on the down low on one hand, and on the other hand is saying that we are supporting moderate democratic opposition, which hilarious to anybody who is following this. We are supporting Al-Qaeda-linked Jihadists who are massacring the people.”

Western support for the Islamist extremists in the Middle East may lead to a global disaster, Lawrence Freeman, editor of the Executive Intelligence Review Magazine, warned.

“Through the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, to Syria, we’ve been supporting Al-Qaeda – the very people who attacked the United States… The entire Syria is a [cesspit] that spreads from North Africa all the way to the Gulf that could bring us to a new world war if we don’t stop Obama’s and Cameron’s policies,” he said.

The Kurds are one of the biggest ethnic groups in the world, which doesn’t have a national state of their own, with about 30 million people inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

They have enjoyed partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991, while the push for creation of a Kurdish autonomy or a state in other Kurdish-populated countries resulting in countermeasures by the respective local governments.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.