On August 24 Turkish-backed Islamists entered Jarablus without any resistance from ISIS. The Turkish pretext was to expel ISIS from Jarablus, but all the signs suggest that the military invasion is in fact directed against Syrian Kurds.
Each one of Erdogan’s conspiracies against Kurds in Syria and south east Turkey begins with a terrorist attack, supposedly by ISIS, which for some mysterious reason keeps silent, neither claiming nor denying responsibility. Thus, whenever there is a terrorist attack on Kurdish civilians in Turkey, one can bet that a Turkish plan has just begun to unfold.
Here is the scenario this time: on August 20 a Kurdish wedding in a city near the Syrian border was attacked and we have been told by Turkish officials that the attacker was an ISIS member. ISIS did not respond to this allegation one way or the other, like all the past cases of terrorist attacks in Turkey for which ISIS has been blamed. However, ultranationalists carrying Turkish flags and shouting “Allah u Akbar” attacked the Kurdish mourners who were trying to bury dozens of victims, most of whom were children. The aftermath followed a similar pattern to that of other terrorist attacks on Kurds for which Ankara has blamed ISIS.
In spite of the mounting evidence of Ankara’s support for and collaboration with ISIS, Erdogan would have us believe that the latest Turkish military invasion in Syria was launched with the express purpose of expelling ISIS from Jarablus. It is obvious that the preparations for the invasion were not the work of a couple of days. In addition to the ten Turkish tanks and special forces that took part in the invasion, more than 5,000 heavily armed Turkman and Arab Islamists were involved.
The bottom line is that, contrary to what Joe Biden has been told, the Turkish invasion has nothing to do with expelling ISIS from Jarablus. If anything, Ankara’s aim was to protect Islamists including ISIS from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ). Since the liberation of Manbij, the YPG, YPJ, and their allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces have been advancing quickly to Jarablus, which is exactly why Turkey decided to make a move.
Turkey had more than two years to “expel” ISIS. Why is that Erdogan has only now chosen to actively address the “threat” of ISIS? Also, is it not strange that ISIS withdrew from Jarablus without fighting, enabling (other) Turkish-backed Islamists to take complete control of the city within hours of the beginning of the operation? ISIS has never withdrawn from any town without first putting up a furious fight.
Once again, the signs speak to this invasion being yet another manifestation of the strategic alliance between Turkey and ISIS to deceive the world. Erdogan’s regime repeatedly warned Kurds not to advance to Jarablus and even called the Euphrates a “red line” after Kurdish forces liberated Kobane despite Erdogan’s support for ISIS in the fight for that city. It is very telling that Erdogan chose to call his military intervention Euphrates Shield; ISIS had been entrenched on the west side of the Euphrates for more than two years and Kurds were primed to change that reality.
To make things worse, Biden, deceived by another Turkish maneuver, has not hesitated to deny support to Kurdish forces west of the Euphrates, in spite of those same forces having been referred to again and again as the “best ally on ground” in the war against ISIS.
Turkey has been busy expanding its alliances in the region, including those with countries such as Russia and Iran. Meanwhile, Al-Assad’s recent aggression in Hasaka and Ankara’s friendly language towards Damascus signal that Al-Assad is also included in Turkey’s new circle of trust. If there is one thing Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria have always agreed on it is their absolute hostility towards any Kurdish political sovereignty. Everyone knows it is perhaps too late to stop Iraqi Kurds from declaring their own state, so Erdogan has been actively using Barzani to further his anti-Kurdish politics in both Turkey and Syria. Erdogan knows very well that the only way to effectively break the Kurdish spirit is to secure a Kurdish ally, and Barzani has been playing that role for years in opposition to the progressive liberation movement in both Northern Kurdistan, in Turkey, and Western Kurdistan, in Syria.
The Islamists who entered Syria from Turkey today will open a new front against Kurds. Jarablus is just the entrance point. The goal is all of Rojava. Of course, Kurds will not give up easily, but being under an embargo from all sides and without American or Russian support, the rest of the story will prove to be awfully familiar: once again Kurds have been betrayed and left to be torn apart by their colonizers. This tragic cycle has been reoccurring since the emergence of the first Kurdish liberation movements in the early 20th century immediately after the division of Kurdistan among its new colonizers.