New Dynamics in Turkey-Syria conflict

The growing influence of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Kurdish independence group linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is an unexpected problem for establishment forces that counted on Turkish aggression against Syria going down smoothly. The PKK has been fighting the Turkish state since 1984 and is considered a “terrorist” organization by Turkey, the EU, and the U.S.

As Reuters News reported on July 25, the Syrian towns of Amuda, Derik, Kobani, and Afrin are under PYD control. According to the Kurdish-Turkish Firat News Agency, Obani, Afrin, Cindirês, Dêrka Hemko, and the villages of Senceq, Til Ziwan, and Til Cîhan in Tirbespî are also under PYD control.
This followed the Hawler Agreement (July 9-10), which united all Syrian Kurdish groups in a Supreme Kurdish Council (ENSK) and in the formation of popular defence forces to control the region. Massoud Barzani’s bourgeois Kurdistan Democratic Party, an ally of Ankara, was the guiding force behind this agreement, which upset the Turkish rulers.
Moreover, according to our regional sources, Kurdish struggles in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey are now closer than ever to achieving unity in action. Massoud Barzani’s bourgeois Kurdistan Democratic Party feels increasing grassroots pressure to support the PYD and PKK.
This will expand the Turkish-Kurdish conflict into new fronts. Turkish jets already fly over Iraqi territory to rain aerial attacks on Kurdish guerrilla forces. And on July 26, Prime Minister Erdogan stated that Turkey is ready to intervene in Syrian territory to strike against the PYD.
Certainly, as the Turkish state facilitates the imperialist assault against its former ally, the dictator Bashar Al-Assad, and against the sovereign Syrian people, it is reaping the unintended consequences of its aggression. Thus, the rise of the PYD in the region fills the power vacuum resulting from the decline of the Assad regime’s authority in northern Syria.
This writer recently spent a month in Turkey, during which time I observed that popular support for war against Syria is minimal, despite the 49.8 per cent support for Erdogan’s party in the June 2011 election. The Turkish government knows it must manipulate public opinion to generate support for, or at least acquiescence to, intervention against Syria. As its violence against its own Kurdish citizens escalates, Turkey’s rulers chastise the Assad regime for supporting Kurdish “terrorists.” This couldn’t be more wrong. The Kurdish movements grow despite the repressive Assad regime and the bourgeois Syrian opposition. In fact, two years ago, Erdogan and Assad signed agreements to battle Kurdish guerrillas in their own territories.
In addition, the business media in Turkey increasingly misinform the public about the conflict in Syria. They argue that the Assad regime represents a Shia minority and tyrannically rules over a Sunni majority. They seek to agitate the Sunni-majority Turkish population against the Assad regime. However, extensive research is not required to recognize that the Assad regime has been backed by the Sunni bourgeoisie. Provoking the Sunnis and Shias to fight each other in the Middle East would have further devastating consequences. Repeated Sunni-Shia clashes in Iraq demonstrate this point.
The Turkish state at present has three objectives: (1) Act in accordance with Washington’s imperial designs on the region and use the Muslim Brotherhood to increase its political influence. (2) Expand the market of Turkish business in the region. (3) Fight and defeat the Kurdish independence movement. Against these aims, the international workers’ movement should build antiwar alliances; critically support the Kurdish independence movement against the pro-imperialist forces; and expose the misrepresentation of the imperialist war against the Syrian people as a Sunni-Shia confict.
The upsurge of the Kurdish people in Syria is independent of both the Assad regime and the various other armed opponents of the Syrian government. But like other national liberation movements, it contains progressive and reactionary elements. Worldwide workers’ struggles against imperialism and in solidarity with the working people of Syria will help the progressive elements to lead the Kurdish movement, and open the road to the socialist revolution in the region.

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