Turkey’s empty grievances against Syrian Kurds - analysis

U.S. plans to help the Turkish military enter Kurdish-run areas of northeast Syria are a terrible idea because Turkey’s grievances against the Kurds are unjust, said an analysis on Tuesday for Washington Examiner. 

“The Kurdish zone in Syria is the most stable and secure region in the country,” said Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“The Kurds almost single-handedly defeated al Qaeda and then the Islamic State (ISIS) at a time when both received support from the Turkish (state),” he said, adding that Turkey’s most recent incursion into Syria led to significant Kurdish displacement.

Henri Barkey, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has expressed a similar view.  

“Whatever one thinks of the Kurds, their determination and sacrifice should be treated as an international public good; they have stopped and destroyed one of the most dangerous and homicidal groups the modern world has known,” he wrote this week in Foreign Policy. “The Turks by contrast have contributed nothing to this endeavour.”

The United States, Turkey and the Syrian Kurds are now in the early stages of setting up a safe zone in northeast Syria. Before making any more concessions, U.S. officials should consider the accuracy of Turkey’s grievances against the Kurds, urged Rubin. 

One Turkish complaint is that Kurdish forces in Syria use the area as a safe haven to launch attacks into Turkey. But the Rojava Information Centre, a Syrian Kurdish think tank, just released a database of attacks across the Turkey-Syria border this year.

All but one of the attacks was staged from Turkey into Syria, according to Rubin, and the heavy weapons and rocket fire from Turkey killed 27 civilians, including a child. As for the one attack from northeast Syria into Turkey, the perpetrator was arrested by the Kurdish-led Syrian Defence Forces (SDF). 

“Rather than Kurdish terrorism, it is Turkey’s proposed buffer zone, Turkey’s revanchism, and its use of fake grievances to justify its imperialism that poses the greatest threat to the region,” said Rubin.