Hopes Of Peace In Middle East Dashed With Turkish Invasion Of Syria
The recent invasion of Syria by Turkey is another situation that has made all the hopes of peace fade away in the Middle East. The invasion, which Turkey claims to be a military operation against terrorists, is aimed specifically at the Kurds inhabiting the border area of Syria; particularly in the towns of Afrin, Koban and Qamishri.
The Kurds are again facing a war after the withdrawal of US forces from Syria, and consider the American withdrawal as a betrayal.
Knowing the Kurds
Kurds are the fourth largest community in the Middle East, numbering around 25 to 35 million. They are located in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Armenia. Before the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds were promised a separate homeland, in light of the Treaty of Sevres. But after the caliphate’s fall, they were forgotten, which engendered resentment among them.
Though being such a large community, they still have been denied their basic rights. The Kurds have hardly enjoyed peace in the last 80 years. In 1978, Ocalan Abdullah, a Kurdish leader in 1978, launched an armed movement against Turkey, calling for freedom for the Kurds.
The clash continued but Ocalan rolled back his slogan in 1990. His movement now aimed at equal rights for Kurds like any other citizen of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Masters of the Kurds
The three states bearing Kurds on their borderlines have always tried to repress the Kurds in more or less a cruel way. Turkey even banned the usage of the term ‘Kurd’ and started calling them the ‘mountainous Turks’. Everything involving the name Kurd was banned.
A large number of the Kurd population resides on the borders of Syria while back in history they used to walk the streets of Damascus. With the passage of time, they were pushed and squeezed towards the borders.
On the other hand, the Kurds are 16-20 percent of the population in Iraq. But after the Iraq-Iran war, they were oppressed by Sadam Hussein and they became the first victims of chemical weapons in the Middle East. Sadam hussein, before the war with Iran, was comparatively soft on the Kurds but later turned on them as they occupied oil-rich lands. In recent history, Kurds have always been against the wall.
Kurds during the Syrian Civil War
In the Syrian Civil War, the Syrian government and the United States used the Kurds against the Islamic State. Kurds themselves were the major target of IS, which made the Syrian government and Kurds an ally for a while. Kurds still oblige the US for the air strikes that prevented a complete doom for them in 2015.
Fighting along with Arab militias and Syrian bannermen under the US-led airstrikes, Kurds drove the IS out of their territory. The peace treaty with Turkey collapsed the same year when IS murdered 33 Kurds in a bombing and the Kurds attacked Turkish police and army on the borders.
Driving the IS out and challenging the Turks encouraged the Kurds to announce their sovereignty but this claim to sovereignty was denied by Syria, Turkey and the United States collectively. In reaction to the Kurd claim, Bashar Al-Assad said, “Nobody in Syria can even think about such a separatist model.”
The Turkish intrusion into the Syrian land began on October 9, with an aim to hunt down terrorists in Kurdish lands. Even Kurds in Turkey are strictly prohibited from crossing the border to support their co-ethnics.
Tayyab Erdogan, in an address to his party members, warned the European Union by saying, “I have no problem in opening the gates and sending 2.6 million Syrian refugees to you.”
In reference to the operation, he said, “It’s an operation to settle the Syrian refugees in their homeland after purging the land from Kurd occupiers.”
Meanwhile, the Kurdish leadership has spoken of an impending humanitarian crisis and has alleged that the Turkish Army is releasing IS militants from Kurdish prisons.
Peace; a fantasy
Peace now just seems to be a fantasy as tensions have escalated again in the Middle East. The Kurds are situated at an important location due to which they keep getting victimised and are used as a proxy between states. From 1978 to 1990, they have sacrificed more than 40,000 of their tribesmen while the number grows day by day.
With Iran and Saudi Arabia optimist about a calm environment, IS almost gone and Middle East on the track to peace, will there be another monster to swallow the peace?
If yes, then the Middle East is going to face another unrest at the hands of Kurds, ignited by Turkey and its respective caretakers.