West must spurn Turkey over Syria – French intellectual

Western countries must put drastic sanctions on Turkey in order not to be complicit in its actions during its offensive against the Kurdish-controlled Syrian enclave of Afrin, which amount to “ethnic cleansing”, French intellectual Bernard Henri Lévy wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies launched an offensive against Afrin on Jan. 20, pledging to rid the area of Syrian Kurdish fighters Ankara says are part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has been waging an armed separatist campaign in Turkey since 1984.

“This sad farce has gone on too long. Unless the West comes to its senses, 2018 will live in infamy as the year that Turkey dropped an iron curtain over the Kurdish people,” Lévy wrote.

“What coming to our senses means today is breaking off, not freezing, negotiations on Turkey’s EU accession, dissolving the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee that continues to operate within the European Parliament, expelling Turkey from the Council of Europe (which has, incidentally, through the European Court of Human Rights, condemned the country 2,812 times since 1959), and reopening, in a serious way, the question of whether Turkey belongs in NATO,” he said.

President Recep Tayyip “Erdoğan leaves the West no choice. If we fail to muster this basic degree of resolve, then the horror of the massacre of the Kurds will be added to the shame of watching their killer gloat atop the ruins of our honour.”

The Kurdish people of Syria should be allowed to keep the land as a reward for their fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), Lévy said.

“In Syria as in Iraq, the Kurds have been the West’s most steadfast allies against Islamic State. Their victory over ISIS complete, Kurdish fighters were naive enough to think they would be allowed to live in peace on the land they had defended and on which their brothers and sisters are buried,” he said. “As the price of that innocence they are being pursued, tortured and assassinated once again, this time in Afrin, a Syrian city close to the Turkish border.”

The West should not sell out the Kurds in order to appease Erdoğan, Lévy said.

“Turkey has cosied up to the Atlantic alliance while brazenly liquidating NATO’s best ally in the fight against ISIS,” he said.

“What is new is the Faustian bargain that the West has made with Mr. Erdoğan. It’s a bargain that, quite simply, is no longer sustainable. Turkey cannot continue to exist simultaneously within NATO and outside it.”