human rights watch

måndag 27 mars 2017

Turkey is pushing its luck

Turkey is pushing its luck
Turkey has lost in Syria and has been worn out in domestic politics, and has returned to their plan pursued since 2012 of achieving results through gangs in Syria.
Monday, March 27, 2017 2:30 PM

Turkey, having lost in Syria and been worn out in domestic politics, has returned to their plan pursued since 2012 of achieving results through gangs in Syria. As they attempt to pull gangs to fight against Kurds from Hama and Homs, they send gangs in Azaz, Rai, Axterin and al-Bab to Hama and Homs to fight against the regime. As they play these games in Syria, their strategic partner KDP is looking for ways for an invasion by deepening the conflict in Shengal.

It all started with the deal over al-Bab and Aleppo. Turkey had made a deal to pull the gangs in Aleppo and take Bab instead. This plan worked. The regime gained control of Aleppo. And Turkey, after months of efforts, invaded Bab. After Bab, Russia’s plan was to clear Idlib. Turkey’s was to continue their invasion of Manbij and Efrîn/Shehba. And looking at the discussion to return the tomb of Suleyman Shah to its former location, they even planned to include Kobanê into their range.

During this period, Turkish President Erdoğan and Russian Head of State Putin talked several times in person and on the phone. The most recent meeting was in Moscow on March 9 and 10. But before that, Russia and the Manbij Military Council made a deal. According to that deal, the defense of the villages to the west of the city was left to the Syrian state forces under the guarantee of Russia. And the northern line of Manbij was opened to US patrols. And thus Turkey’s plan to march to Manbij was blocked and voided.

All these were on the table in the latest meeting between Turkey and Russia. Turkey’s plan had been voided, but Russia continued with their plan on Idlib, Hama and Homs.


When the Russian plan for Manbij, Bab and Idlib and Hama and Homs continued, Turkey was left with the gang groups allied to them in Idlib, Bab, Hama and Homs. The groups in Bab were pulled to Jarablus for a possible attack on Shehba. They even made some attack plans on Kobanê’s Şêxan (Sheiks) towns. It also came to light that Turkey had planned attacks on Kobanê and Girê Spî and made preparations for that. But groups from Manbij in particular stood against this plan, saying “We have no business on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates, our priority is our own city”, and they didn’t join Turkey in this plan. When there were dissident voices inside as well, the plans were postponed. For Turkey, this plan is still relevant, there are signs that they will implement it as soon as they find the chance. Because they have made huge military build-up on the Girê Spî border. And they have gathered forces for an attack on Şêxan in Jarablus.


As Turkey was in this conundrum regarding Rojava/Northern Syria, they faced another in Idlib, Hama and Homs. The conundrum is this: According to the deal they made with Russia, they were to remove the gangs from the areas they were holding. Turkey put on a show of removing the gangs and their families from Hama and Homs to mislead Russia. But they launched attacks on the regime in Damascus, Hama and Homs with some groups including al-Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham.


As they brought the groups they pulled from Hama and Homs to Ezaz, Jarablus and Rai, they reorganized the same groups and prepared to send them to Hama, Homs, Damascus and Idlib. For instance, the other day, they sent a 1000-man group from Sultan Murad and Liva al-Hamza from Azaz and Hama Al Waar back to Hama. Those who refused to go were arrested or disarmed. Those who didn’t want to fight were also threatened with salary and food aid cuts. The gang groups they assigned in Axterin, Shava, Rai, Til Cican, Marea and Ershabe bases over the Shehba side had their salaries and food aid cut. The gangs started looking for new solutions when faced with this situation.


The Manbij Military Council recently captured 5 gang members who wanted to cross over from Jarablus. The captives are members of the Sultan Murad gang brought over from Homs. They said they were brought from Homs to fight against the regime but they were faced with a war plan to attack Kurds after they came, and that they refused. They said some gang members brought over alongside them were sent back to Hama. They confessed that most gang members were disturbed by this and wanted to lay down arms, and that some already have.

Confessions by the captured gang members confirm Turkey’s widespread invasion plan we tried to explain above. Turkey hasn’t given up on their plans to invade Northern Syria and Rojava. As they act like they are fulfilling the responsibilities for their deal with Russia, they are sending the gangs they pulled back to fight the Russia-backed r

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