Turks, Kurds seek support of Azeris and Armenians

Turks and Kurds have been seeking the support of Azeris and Armenians respectively in their attempts to gain international support for their causes in the conflict in the Syrian region of Afrin, Emil Sanamyan wrote for EurasiaNet.

“Accounts associated with the Azerbaijani lobby in Turkey distributed photos, apparently taken in the war zone, showing messages written on shells like ‘Karabakh is Turkish, will remain Turkish’ with a hashtag for the Turkish official name for the Afrin operation, Olive Branch,” Sanamyan said.

“Göksel Gülbey, head of the Turkish Association that Struggles Against International Baseless Armenian Lies (or ASIMDER for short), said Kurdish forces were receiving help from Armenia – particularly from among its Kurdish Yezidi minority – though it didn't furnish any evidence to that effect.”

One long-standing claim in Turkey has been that there are many Armenian-origin fighters in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – while another says the group was founded by Armenians who took on Kurdish identity.

The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has been seeking to exploit anti-Turkish sentiment to gain support from their cause in Armenia.

“Last year, Kurdish fighters put on events and produced films dedicated to veteran leftist guerrilla Nubar Ozanyan, a Turkish-born ethnic Armenian who was killed fighting for YPG and against ISIS (Islamic State) in Raqqa in August 2017. Ozanyan’s obituaries highlighted the fact that Ozanyan, nicknamed General Mardakert, also fought in the Karabakh war in the early 1990s,” Sanamyan said.

“Since the start of the Afrin fighting, local officials highlighted the cases of the few ethnic Armenians still living in Afrin killed or injured in the Turkish bombing. Northern Syria, particularly the city of Aleppo, used to have a large Armenian community, descendants of the Armenian genocide in Turkey.”

However, while individual Armenians and Azeris may have been convinced by the rhetoric, their governments have been muted on the subject, Sanamyan said.

“While on social media Armenians and Azerbaijanis could be seen cheerleading for Kurds and Turks, respectively, official reactions have not been as enthusiastic.”

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