An announcement by the President USA and a tweet by the Turkey President, has stirred up fear and a refugee situation in the Kurds community residing in Northern Syria.
Hundreds of Kurds living in the Northern part of Syria are now looking for a safe land to feed their children and keep them alive for a little while longer. They are trying to bring together their loved ones and flee the land they’ve lived in since they can remember to avoid the possibility of being forced to run away.
Members of the ethnic Kurdish community, living under the control of the defence force, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), is under attack again as Turkey is to launch an operation to move Kurdish forces away from its border. The Kurdish community is a minority ethnic group which is frequently under attack.
Who are the Kurds?
Kurds are individuals from the ethnic minority group that have settled in Syria, but closer to the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Armenia. They are also the largest minority group in Turkey, they form 20% of the population but the state refuses to recognize them as such.
Though a minority, the Kurds are large in numbers. There are about 25 to 30 million Kurds living in the mountain region of Syria. While most of them are Sunni Muslims, they all united by a unique race, culture and language.
Kurds traditionally lived a nomadic life under the Ottoman empire, post which they had to fend for themselves and hence, were divided into different nations around. They are stripped off their rights to maintain their identity in Turkey. They cannot wear traditional Kurdish outfits or speak their language. Referred to as ‘Mountain Turks’, they are at the receiving end of institutionalized discrimination in Turkey.
History of their dream homeland, ‘Kurdistan’.
In the 20th century, Kurds dreamed of a nation for their community, Kurdistan. Soon after the defeat of the Ottoman empire in World war 1, the British forces occupied the oil-rich regions in the Kurdish province of Mosul. In 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres came into existence which led to the claiming of areas in Asia and North Africa by Turkey and called for an autonomous state of Kurdistan.
However, later in 1923, allies and the former Ottoman Empire declare Turkey as an independent state while at the same time dropped the demands for an independent Kurdistan. Eventually, the dreamland Kurdistan never saw the daylight and the Kurdish region got divided between several states.
The conflict with Turkey.
The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, holds a non-negotiable stand against the Kurds and their nationalism. He wants to get rid of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish far-left militant and political organization based in Turkey and Iraq that fought the Turkish state for more than three decades.
In an attempt to eliminate the Kurdish nationalism, several pro-Kurdish media outlets were shut in 2016, more than 11,000 teachers were dismissed or suspended over alleged PKK connections and at least 24 government appointees replaced Kurdish mayors in the country.
Turkey has not kept its discontent with the Kurdish settlements under wraps. It wishes to wipe out the Kurds from Syria that are closer to Turkey’s border. Turkey’s military has already captured portions of the region previously held by the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Their on-going plan to install a buffer zone in northern Syria is underway.
The two major goals for Turkey are, a- to wipe out the Kurds from their border and b- use the captured area to resettle 2 million Syrian refugees.
Why the community is under attack now?
Earlier this year, the US president, Trump announced the withdrawal of its troops from Syria. This created a fear among the Kurds about a possible attack on them led by Turkey, which was later confirmed by an official statement by the USA.
A White House statement read, "Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,”, and "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."
A tweet by Erdogan, the President of Turkey a few days earlier confirmed an operation that will threaten their stay in Northen Syria. Erdogan tweeted, “The Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria. Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area.”
Attacking Kurds might bring back the ISIS
In March 2019, the world witnessed the end of the global terror outfit, ISIS at the hands of SDF, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab soldiers backed by US, British and French special forces.
Though the ISIS virtually holds no territory now, the US has warned about the possibility of thousands of ISIS soldiers hiding in plain sight in both Iraq and Syria. The ones captured by the SDF during several clashes are under lockdown with the SDF and might be handed over to Turkey.
While the Kurds will either be running away from the destruction or fighting for their land, the two holding facilities containing displaced ISIS members and ISIS survivors will be left ungoverned.
The oncoming chaos might create favourable conditions for the global outfit to reestablish itself.