Rojava's People's Defense Forces (YPG) liberating Tel Abyad/Girê Spî
Reposted from Harvest.
Yesterday we talked a bit on this blog about the crisis the Turkish government is experiencing in this new period after the June 7 elections and as the liberation movement moves to take Tel Abyad/Girê Spî from ISIS. Since Tel Abyad/Girê Spî is on the Turkish-Syrian border, and since that border crossing has helped ISIS resupply, Turkish President Erdoğan and his government have been put in a tight spot. A new refugee crisis has added to those problems. The liberation movement took Tel Abyad/Girê Spî today and the border at Akçakale and Girê Spî/Tel Abyad is now under the control of Rojava’s People’s Defense Forces (YPG) and the Liwa Al-Tahrir forces tied to the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
These events must be among the Turkish President’s nightmares. He only recently said, "On our border, in Tel Abyad, the West, which is conducting aerial bombings against Arabs and Turkmens, is unfortunately putting terrorist members of the PYD and PKK in their place.” The PYD is Rojava’s Democratic Union Party and the PKK is the Kurdistan Worker’s Party. Erdogan can see no further than this and his remarks may be understood as either supporting ISIS or as preferring that ISIS be at the border rather than the Kurdish freedom movement and Rojava’s democratic forces. Erdoğan and some in his government went even further by accusing the West of backing "Kurdish terrorists" in northern Syria, charging that the refugees from Tel Abyad/Girê Spî were fleeing the anti-ISIS bombings being carried out by US-led coalition forces and initially refusing to open the border to the Tel Abyad/Girê Spî refugees as they suffered in 95-degree heat without water or shade while ISIS forces sought to take some of them as human shields.
Erdoğan's government, already battered by the June 7 election results which allowed the progressive People’s Democratic Party (HDP) to enter Parliament as a party, is taking quite a hit under these new circumstances. We have argued here that Erdoğan and his government support ISIS, actively or passively, and now these forces are being routed by the liberation movement. The government has done almost nothing over the past 48 hours which will reassure the leading imperialist powers. Indeed, it is clear that the government’s ability to do crisis management has suffered.
ISIS must now withdraw to Raqqa and find other supply routes. The US-led coalition airstrikes may continue and aid Kurdish forces, whether this is intended or not. Revolutionary Rojava can unite their cantons and continue to build a peoples’ democracy. We have maintained that it is this revolutionary democracy, led as it is by women and by popular forces, that poses the fundamental problem for Erdoğan's government and ISIS. Even as the center of the fighting now moves to Raqqa, the contest between revolutionary democracy and fascism deepens. Erdoğan might have positioned himself as a regional leader firm in his opposition to ISIS and similar forces, but with the passing of time the liberation movement has instead gained credibility in the west. Cizîrê Canton Public Services Vice Minister Newroz Muhammed was exactly right when she recently said that the international community is well aware that no problems in Syria can be solved without the Kurdish forces.
Erdoğan has been to tell the pro-government media outlets that the YPG is deliberately targeting the indigenous Arab and Turkmen population in northern Syria and that Rojava and the YPG are threats to Turkey’s national interests. Some of these views have been echoed by the powerful and reactionary Ahrar al-Sham and Jaish al-Islam organizations in Syria, and by some allegedly liberal groups and people in the Kurdistan Regional Government as well, in a cynical effort to divide the liberation movement and the forces gathering around it as ISIS is forced to retreat. The false claim has been made that "YPG forces ... have implemented a new sectarian and ethnic cleansing campaign against Sunni Arabs and Turkmen under the cover of coalition airstrikes which have included bombardment, terrorizing civilians and forcing them to flee their villages" by these forces. Even the United States has distanced itself from such remarks. The YPG has liberated more than 500 Kurdish and Christian towns and strategic positions and have pushed into Raqqa province.
Turkish interference in Syria continues and is part of the crisis. The Cumhuriyet and Birgün newspapers have both recently exposed links between the ruling reactionary Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdoğan’s party, and ISIS in northern Syria. Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) at one point transported ISIS fighters through the Akçakale border gate to fight against the YPG and allied forces. Erdoğan’s immediate maneuvers have been to again attack the media and the judiciary.
Today Erdoğan went even further and said, “But if the party that came first in the election cannot achieve (forming a government) and neither can the second one ... then going to the ballot box again as per the constitution would be inevitable. I don’t call this a snap election, but a re-run.” In other words, the President is not coming to terms with the new political reality in Turkey which brought the HDP into Parliament, created something like a political stalemate in government and showed the weaknesses of the AKP after 12 years in power. This new reality is driven in part by struggles taking part across the region, Syria included, and by the enthusiasm generated by Rojava’s advanced revolution. For that matter, it is also driven in part by Turkey’s 10-per-cent-plus unemployment rate and high inflation rate as well, which are very much related to the regional conflicts. A rerun of the last elections would be an undemocratic and power-grabbing move which might well further undermine Erdoğan and his AKP.
The situation or crisis in Syria went on the agenda for a cabinet meeting today while a liberal Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader finally stated the obvious---a government can now form in Turkey without the AKP. The fascist Nationalist Movement Party offered to cooperate with the AKP in forming a government but put forward conditions Erdoğan is unlikely to agree to since they potentially expose graft and corruption in his party and government. He started with a program that argued for a more powerful presidency at the expense of Parliament and an authoritarian security package that the AKP passed through Parliament over the objections of the democratic forces. He may soon be floundering as Rojava’s revolution expands and as the crises in Syria and Iraq intensify and as the most democratic forces in North Kurdistan and Turkey advance.