World complicit in Afrin “brutality” – Academic

The world-famous anthropologist David Graeber has lambasted world leaders in an article for The Guardian for their silence as Turkey and what he calls its “Islamist militant” allies attack the Kurdish enclave of Afrin.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 against fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the northwest Syrian area of Afrin. Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group classed as terrorists in Turkey that has been in conflict with Turkish armed forces since it launched a separatist insurgency in the 1980s.

However, Graeber said in his article that the YPG’s connection to the PKK does not go beyond ideological affinity with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who he says inspired the Syrian Kurdish movement to begin “calling for a radical decentralisation of power and opposition to ethnic nationalism of all sorts.”

Thus the Afrin operation is “entirely unprovoked” according to the London School of Economics professor, who says Turkey was motivated by the threat not of terrorism but of an “alternative vision of what life in the region could be like.”

A number of actors besides Turkey recognises the strong organic links between the PKK and YPG, including Kurdish fighters themselves, one of whom remarked in a 2015 interview with the Wall Street Journal that the YPG, Iranian Kurdish group PJAK and the PKK were one and the same.

Graeber went on to raise a number of accusations against Turkey, saying that the Turkish armed forces had used napalm on civilians, employed Islamist militias including al-Qaeda and Islamic State veterans, destroyed “irreplaceable archaeological monuments,” and threatened the predominantly Kurdish area with ethnic cleansing.

The article goes on to condemn Western leaders for their lack of action to rein in Operation Olive Branch, accusing them of cooperating in what he implies is Turkish state terrorism.