Statement 26.11.2012 – There have been important developments since November 8th in Serekani (Ras al-Ayn), the Kurdish area of Syria, which is also on the border of Turkey. Neighboring a town by the same name (Ceylanpinar) on the Turkey border, Serekani is a multicultural and multi-ethnic city with Arab, Assyrian and Circassian inhabitants. Both Serekani’s are divided by barbed wire. On November 8th 2012 the armed groups Ghuraba al-Sham, Al-Nisra Front and Al-Tawhid Front all groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Salafis entered Serekani (Syria) from the Turkish border.
The majority of the members of the above mentioned groups are not Syrian, but formed of Jihadist people from different countries. Furthermore the Free Syrian Army has also declared that these groups do not belong to them. The command and logistics centre of these groups is Turkey. Initially these groups battled with the Syrian Army and embedded themselves in the Arab neighborhoods. When they had consolidated their place they then began attacking the Kurdish neighborhoods. On November 19th 2012 they ambushed Serekani Kurdish People’s Parliament President Abid Xelil and those next to him, who were on their way to a meeting with them. Abid Xelil and another person were killed and three people were wounded in the attack. This resulted in battles between the YPG (Kurdish People’s Defence Battalions) and these Jihadist groups.
When the battles intensified and the mentioned groups began struggling, they were reinforced by missiles launched from the Turkish side; other logistic support was also provided and they carried their wounded militants over the Turkish border. Despite this a great part of the city was cleansed from these groups. Currently they have presence only in a few neighborhoods which are on the border and face Turkey. At the moment there is a ceasefire due to the intervention of a few Arab tribes. However these groups could go back on the offensive at any time if they receive reinforcements from Turkey.
Turkey’s Syrian policy is wholly shaped around an anti-Kurdish axis. Only two years ago Turkey were in the best of relations with the Syrian regime. Together they were conducting operations against the Kurds. Tayyip Erdogan and Besar Al-Assad were constantly seen arm-in-arm and were close enough to take family vacations together. There common interest was their Anti-Kurdish policy. The Turkish government, with the belief that the regime would topple early on, put their weight behind the opposition. The aim was to be on the same page as the opposition in relation to the Kurdish issue.
However the regime has not been toppled yet. The Kurds have become a force and begun administering their own areas. The Kurdish region is calm and many people fleeing from the conflict in other areas have found sanctuary in these areas. This is why Turkey is uncomfortable and wants to disturb the Kurdish region and in the process endanger the gains of the Kurds. This is why they are arming groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Salafis and sending them to the Kurdish Region. Turkey is the real force behind the Serekani attack and ensuing developments. They tried the same thing in the Kurdish neighborhoods of Aleppo but were forced to retract after heavy losses and were also defeated in the Kurdish city of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab). However Turkey and the groups that are aiding their policies have not given up yet. Turkey are continuing their enmity towards Kurds both inside Turkey and outside; this is the root of the problem.
Although the main concern in Turkey’s Syrian policy is the gain of Kurds, it is not limited to this. There is also a sectarian approach which foregrounds Sunni-Islam which is Turkey’s Middle East policy currently rests on. This is the connection between the AKP and the Islamic and Jihadist that it is supporting; although not the same, they belong to the same ideological family. This is why they were collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood from the outset and foregrounded this organization from among the Syrian opposition; transferring their central command to Turkey and providing every type of support in the process.
And now Turkey have asked for Patriot missiles from NATO and will be provided with these. They will be deployed on the Syria border. The Syrian Army do not have the strength to attack let alone target or threaten Turkey. Therefore the argument ‘these missiles are for defense purposes’ does not ring true. The only purpose of these missiles is to form a buffer zone in North Syria. As is well know North Syria is home to the Kurdish people. By forming a buffer zone in this area Turkey are attempting to intervene in and prevent any possible Kurdish gains.
The area where the Patriot missiles will be deployed is right across the area of conflict. With this deployment the air-space control of many areas taken over by rebels and all of the Kurdish region will fall into the hands of Turkey. The Patriot missiles will protect the rebels against airstrikes by Syrian warplanes and the prerequisites for a no-fly zone will come into effect. Therefore Turkey will do everything in its power to either engage in a direct intervention or intensify its support of Islamist-Jihadist groups to take control of the Kurdish region. This is Turkey’s intention and this is why they have asked for the Patriot missiles.
From whichever aspect it is viewed Turkey’s Syrian policy will create new problems for the region and World. If this policy is successful it will lead to a long-term civil war in Syria and create a new Lebanon for the region and a new Afghanistan for Jihadist groups. It is evident that this will not benefit anyone but conversely complicate the situation.
However neither is it possible nor a solution to accept the current regime and status quo. What needs to be done is the following: Without engaging in military intervention, a dialogue which includes all the political, religious, ethnic and other groups in Syria must begin and be supported by all so that a democratic, plural and inclusive Syria can be shaped.
Within this framework we call on all forces concerned and public opinion to be aware of Turkey’s aggressive Anti-Kurdish policy and sectarian approach, and to take a stance against this in support of a political solution to the Syria issue.
Executive Council of the KNK