“Erdogan’s war against the Kurds is eerily reminiscent of Putin’s war in Ukraine”

SERVICE – Although the Turkish government has launched a new offensive against Kurdish armed groups, the writer believes that by leaving this people to their fate, we have helped the flourishing of Islamism in northern Syria.

Patrice Franceshi is a writer committed to the Kurds. He is especially the author If only one remains (Grasset, 2021).

LE FIGARO. – After the November 13 attack in Istanbul, which Ankara attributed to Kurdish groups, Turkey’s airstrikes dislodged Kurdish fighters in their strongholds in Northern Iraq and Syria. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday that since Sunday, Turkish air force and artillery have targeted about 500 targets in these regions. How to analyze this renewed tension?

Patrice Franceschi. – One fact should make everyone think: the parallel between Erdogan’s way of subduing the Kurds and Putin’s attempt to do the same with the Ukrainians. In both cases, the victim pretext is the same for the international community – if it exists at all – to apply the “fait accompli” policy, which no longer hesitates to use armed force in a particularly unfettered way and in violation of all international laws: Putin attacked Ukraine in order to defend itself “Nazification” This country will defend itself against Erdogan “terrorists” Kurds. It’s an unfortunate reminder of the reasons Hitler invoked in the past when he invaded Poland… When you try to strangle your dog, you say it’s rabid, the adage is more valid than ever. It also reflects a new fact: Westerners, including Americans, no longer fear dictatorships.

Erdogan’s use of the military tool is similar to Putin’s: using aviation, drones and artillery to destroy not only military positions, but all existing civilian infrastructure. It is about exhausting the population to break its defensive spirit. The 500 targets that the Turks have targeted along the 800 kilometer border between Turkey and Syria – this is a really big attack – are essentially grain silos, power plants, hospitals, schools, everything that allows for normal life. I have shared the struggle of the Kurds since the beginning of the war ten years ago, and I can assure you that we have never seen such an influx of violence, where everything is characterized as a crime against humanity, where everyone is careful not to condemn: Turkey, being a member of NATO, made itself indispensable in the Ukraine conflict, and still Blocks Sweden and Finland from joining NATO and continues the hellish blackmail on migrants that is crippling us. Erdogan is extremely efficient in achieving his goals. Unlike our leaders, he is a statesman who knows what he wants in the long run.

The Kurds were at the forefront of the struggle against Islamism in the east, thereby preventing Turkish expansionism.

Patrice Franceschi

It should be noted here that the Turks also bombed the security posts of the camps where thousands of jihadists captured by the Kurds were imprisoned during the war against ISIS. In this regard, the stated intention is to ensure that these jihadists can escape to be “reprocessed” by Ankara, of course, against the Kurds, but also against us. In such a case, our security interests are at stake, we should not believe otherwise. This war worries us from the beginning. The Kurds are completely powerless against these attacks, they have no anti-aircraft weapons. they pass

The central goal of the MIT (Editor’s note, the National Intelligence Organization or MIT, in French for Turkey’s intelligence service) — and this is not new — is to destroy as many Syrian Kurds as possible. There are several reasons for this. The first is the quasi-ontological hatred that Turks have always had for Kurds. You have to understand this deep feeling to understand Erdogan’s mental process. Like the Arabs and Persians – in the old fashion – the Ottomans also hate these “subhumans” who are Kurds in their eyes. For decades, they have been subjected to a repression whose brutality is hard to measure, naturally leading to armed resistance in response, which, in a reversal of events, becomes the pretext the Turks rely on. “to protect”. A magnificent falsification of reality.

Then the Kurds were at the forefront of the struggle against Islamism in the East, thus preventing Turkish expansionism, which was and still is based on aiding and abetting the Islamists, constantly manipulating them and mastering their internal contradictions. Our Kurdish allies, with the support of an international coalition of which France is a member, managed to defeat ISIS after five years of unimaginable fighting that left 36,000 people dead and injured, and Erdogan’s ambitions were severely hampered. All these years, the Kurds were our “ground troops” to destroy our common enemies, the jihadists responsible for attacks on French soil. It is an unbearable victory for Erdogan, because he has exploited and supported all the terrorist groups in the region for his own benefit – I have seen it a hundred times – to expand the influence of Cham, as the Islamists say.

Finally, the liberation of the Syrian Kurds in northern Syria after their victory on our side – not to mention the fact that they have settled in an area four times the size of Lebanon – is a very sad political model for Turkey. and all regimes in the region because they are based on the four pillars of Western thought: genuine democracy, equality between men and women, secularism and respect for minorities. Unheard of in the Middle East. In Syrian Kurdistan, Aramaic, the language of Christ, is recognized as an official language alongside Kurdish and Arabic. For the Turks, this revolutionary political model must be destroyed at any cost before it “contaminates” the peoples of the region.

Unrest reigns and insecurity continues to grow, with the Kurds now controlling only a small fraction of the areas they liberated from ISIS.

Patrice Franceschi

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also threatens to launch a ground operation in northern Syria. Is this hypothesis valid?

It’s more likely than reliable. Sooner or later, Erdogan will do what he says: Occupy northern Syria in a strip 800 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide, in order to take advantage of the buffer zone to “defend” Turkey from Kurdish attacks against his country – ten years from now. I have not personally witnessed it. The Kurds are careful not to provoke their powerful enemies.

This ground operation will be the fourth since 2016. It should be remembered here that the Turks and their then-jihadi allies took advantage of a momentary inattention of the West – and I say this politely – to seize the state in the Shabat region, and then in 2018, a brutal ethnic cleansing that hardly bothered the rest of the world. Afrin settlement, which they continue to take. But the worst came in October 2019, when Trump, in one of his customary speeches, ordered the withdrawal of most of the American troops still protecting the Kurds – as we French watched sheepishly. Thus, he authorized Erdoğan to carry out a large-scale ground operation that ended with the occupation of the central territory of Rojava, the physical land of the Kurds. Since then, unrest has reigned and insecurity continues to grow, with the Kurds controlling only a small portion of the areas they liberated from ISIS. Therefore, the dormant cells of the Islamic organization continue to grow stronger to our detriment. The fire has been burning for three years.

Isn’t the lack of support of the Syrian Kurds beyond the moral level a strategic mistake that will allow the resurgence of the influence of the Islamic State?

When we suddenly abandoned the Kurds on October 9, 2019, despite all the security promises we made to them, to make up for the heavy casualties they had incurred fighting ISIS on the front lines, we committed an irreparable crime. moral sin. I can guarantee you that all the French soldiers who knew the brotherhood of arms with the Kurds experienced this desertion as a human, even a personal tragedy – I clearly fall into that category.

At the moment, only the Americans and the French are active behind the scenes, preparing for the invasion of the earth.

Patrice Franceschi

But let’s leave it at that and talk about the political guilt of this abandonment of the Kurds. In 2019, after several years of exemplary military campaign, we have a huge anti-Islamic “shield” in northern Syria. There we had sure, reliable, determined and friendly allies who knew how to rally around them the Christians of the region – often forgotten – and the Arabs who opposed the jihadists – there are many of them. They were still the famous Syrian Democratic Forces protecting us as best they could from the resurgence of our common enemies. If we had not left the Kurds in the hands of the Turks, we would still be here. We have returned to the situation in northern Syria today, approximately in 2013. One day, even if we win all our wars, we will have to reflect on this strange way we lost…

Everything has to start over to protect our security interests. In this regard, we must not forget that the attacks that took place in France in 2015 were incited by jihadists who dream of only one thing in this region today: to take revenge on us, that is, to be able to organize mass attacks in France again. And countries in Europe that are disgusting with their democracies that allow men to decide their own laws instead of laws dictated by Sharia.

What could be the role of France and Europe in this conflict?

We should begin by recalling the Kurdish “tropism” of our president, whatever you think of the latter. He was the only Head of State to be officially received in Paris and several times supported the Kurdish leaders and their Christian and Arab allies, which is an honor for him. He has been very opposed to Erdogan on this issue – often violently – and is reaching out to Kurdish military leaders to find solutions to this new crisis. He also kept some elements of our special forces in place with the Americans. This at least protects the small Kurdish enclaves that support Iraqi Kurdistan, which is the only place they will stay if we don’t stop Erdogan from achieving his goals. We can criticize our president for not speaking out against Erdogan in recent days, but most of the Western leaders who spoke did so to express that they “understand” Turkey’s security interests. The duties are as unimaginable as they are embarrassing. They do not respect our democracy.

At the moment, only the Americans and the French are working behind the scenes to prevent the ground invasion that is being prepared – so it hasn’t happened yet. It is to be feared that in this conflict we will surrender, but the worst is never certain. An ounce of hope remains. It depends only on our will to fearlessly defend our interests and our ability to accept what we do not like very much: the irreconcilable return of power relations in an increasingly violent world.

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