Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
On the second day of a Turkish military operation being carried out in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, the commander-in-chief of the Kurdish groups YPG Sipan Hemo declared that Moscow betrayed Kurds.
“We agreed with Russia to observe Afrin on the peaceful principles but it now supports Turkey is allowing Turkish warplanes to attack civilians in Afrin. It means Russia has betrayed us”.
If Sipan Hemo said all of this but replaced the word “Russia” with “the USA”, then everything would be logical and true. But all of this was said concerning Moscow, so it means that we an raise our eyebrows in amazement and ask the commander of the YPG groups: since when was Russia an ally of the Syrian Kurds? It seems to me that the time came to dot the “i” and to stop speculating on this subject, because all of this introduces an unnecessary line of division in the Russian patriotic society.
Kurds are encircled: the enemy of my enemy
Yes, it is true, the Kurdish enclave in northwestern part of Syria for a long time fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the Syrian governmental soldiers against the so-called forces of the Free Syrian Army. But here everything was logical and clear. The FSA groups were supervised by Ankara, and at that time neither the Kurds nor Syrian governmental units could expect anything good from it. It is for this reason that Damascus at the time supplied local Kurdish groups with arms, ammunition, and food.
In this instance the principle was: the enemy of my enemy is for me if not a friend, then at least an ally. It is noteworthy that already then the Kurds preferred to fight against common enemies not being in the ranks of the governmental army, but as separate national units. And this was a bright contrast with the same Deir-Ezzor, where the Armenian diaspora, being afraid that it will be slashed by ISIS bandits, fought shoulder-to-shoulder with Syrian governmental soldiers and under the Syrian banner.
Turkey switches into the camp of Russia
In this symbiosis (Kurds plus Syrian Arab Army) everything was good until the summer of 2016, when Russia was able to drag Turkey into its camp. It was precisely from this point, and not in January, 2018, that the paths of the Kurds and the government in Damascus, and thus Russia, diverged.
But back then they still had a choice. For this purpose the Kurds needed to enter into negotiations with the Syrian government and to participate in the peace process for a settlement of the situation in Syria. If they had done this, they would have been guaranteed a worthy place in the new Syrian State and full protection against the encroachments of Turkey.
But the Kurds preferred to choose for themselves a new ally — Washington. And thereby the Kurdish militarised YPG units switched to being supplied by American warehouses, and their fighters started being militarily trained by American instructors. Back then it seemed to the Kurds that they made the right choice, and that America – the old hegemon of the Middle East – won’t allow them to be offended.
The deployment of Russian peacekeepers at the line of demarcation between the pro-Turkish and Kurdish units became the last help that Russia decided to offer at the beginning of 2017 to its leaving ally. Back then there was still hope that sooner or later the Kurds could be persuaded, and that nevertheless they will join the peace process in Syria. But everything happened on the contrary. With each passing month power in the enclave became more and more pro-American and less and less pro-Russian. Yes, the Kurds were not against Russians protecting them from the rage of Turks, and actually created a barrier in the direction that was the most convenient for an offensive by the Armed Forces of Turkey (from the East and the Southeast from Afrin).
But at the same time they didn’t stop receiving from the US weapons, ammunition, and also new instructions for further actions. It is precisely for this reason that we didn’t see the Kurds on the lists of negotiators under the auspices of Russia. They already decided everything for themselves long ago. For them, the friend of their enemy – Russia – can’t be a friend in any way.
The US’ Treachery
The Kurds received the last offer from Moscow on January 20th, literally on the eve of the Turkish offensive. Russia for the last time urged the Kurds to come to their senses, cut ties with the US, and to lift the Syrian banner. At this time Ankara declared that such an option quite suits them, and in this case they will cancel the military operation. The answer of the Kurds was arrogant and unambiguous:
“We will defend our lands ourselves,” said the Executive Committee Member of the Democratic Society Movement Aldar Khalil.
Apparently, Kurdish politicians, by giving such an answer to Moscow, still continued to hope for the help of the US. But the State Department, having had a long, more than 24 hours pause, and having held consultations with Ankara, preferred to hand over their trustful ally:
“As expressed by Secretary Tillerson in calls to his Turkish and Russian counterparts yesterday, the United States is very concerned about the situation in northwest Syria, especially the plight of innocent civilians who are now faced with an escalation in fighting. We continue to be supportive of addressing the legitimate security concerns of Turkey as a NATO Ally and critical partner in the effort to defeat ISIS. However, we urge Turkey to exercise restraint and ensure that its military operations remain limited in scope and duration and scrupulous to avoid civilian casualties. We call on all parties to remain focused on the central goal of defeating ISIS. Now is the time for great nations to work together to secure a peaceful stability for the people of Syria.”
Here it is – the real treachery of the Kurdish people. It is precisely the Americans who betrayed their ally and for political reasons handed it over to their old enemies for punishment. But for some reason the Kurds prefer to remain silent about this real treachery. Sipan Hemo is silent about this in his address too. Probably, he understands from whose cauldron sups from, and doesn’t dare to say a critical word towards his real master. Thus, it doesn’t embarrass him at all that his words in today’s realities look like absolute nonsense.
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