Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan poses as the friend of Palestinians in Gaza. But he has his own dirty war as his forces blast Kurds and their allies in Syria and Iraq.
Because Turkey is a part of the Nato military alliance, and a major force in the region, the West remains silent.
Across four days last week, Turkish military forces targeted over 50 locations across north and east Syria. Air strikes hit people’s homes, hospitals, schools and key infrastructure. Around two million people were left without power and water.
These attacks underline the spreading chaos and death that imperialism has unleashed across the region. The Israeli state is warning war against the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank—and carrying out military strikes in Lebanon and Syria.
Britain and the US are bombing Yemen. Pakistan and Iran are exchanging missiles on their border.
Erdogan’s attacks on Kurds and others show how imperialism’s latest offensives against the Palestinians are bleeding into and adding to a series of other conflicts. And they are accelerating them. These conflicts are themselves based on earlier imperialist carve-ups in the Middle East and the denial of national rights to, for example, the Kurdish people.
As in December, Turkey’s latest air strikes followed operations of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The group carried out attacks on Turkish bases in the mountains of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, in which nine Turkish soldiers were killed.
Turkey also wants to strangle the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria—also known as Rojava—and eliminate its military, the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The socialist Revolutionary Left Movement in Syria said last week, “Brutal Turkish attacks that have been continuing for many months on people and all infrastructure in north eastern Syria, aim to deprive the means of life for millions of Syrians.
“They are an attempt by Turkey to exhaust the Autonomous Administration in the region and prevent it from providing the necessities of life for the people.
“In the face of this brutal Turkish war against our land and our people, which cannot take place and continue without US approval, what is required is a clear, frank and practical position in condemning and confronting it from all Syrians.
“In addition we have to mobilise all the energies of our people, their political forces and the forces of liberation in the world to stop this continuing Turkish aggression—and even defeat Erdogan.
“At this fateful moment when emerging Turkish imperialism is preparing to attack the peoples of the region and destroy all the gains achieved with the blood of male and female martyrs, the political and moral duty requires every democratic Syrian and every leftist and freedom-loving person in the world to show principled and unconditional solidarity.
“We must support the peoples of the region in their legitimate resistance to Turkish aggression and all its mercenaries and agents.
“We renew the call issued by our party, the Revolutionary Left Movement in Syria, at the end of last year, to all those who have the will to resist and advocates of liberation to do all necessary coordination among themselves, at home and abroad, to condemn this aggression against the areas of democratic self-administration and confront it forcefully, until the last soldier leaves.
“It is time to defend our people’s gains and their right to liberation by all available means instead of being satisfied with empty slogans and conciliatory liberal rhetoric.”
Erdogan’s verbal support for the Palestinians is another calculated play in his great game of balancing between the major imperialist powers and extending Turkey’s control.
Before 7 October, Turkey had deepened its relations with the Binyamin Netanyahu government in the interests of exploiting oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Erdogan fears the genocide by Israel can set the whole region on fire, and that that can destabilise Turkey as well.
Kurdish forces, which cooperated militarily with the US against Isis, are also caught between their support for Palestine and their desire to keep Joe Biden on board. It’s disastrous to ally with the US, which uses movements for its own ends and then dumps them.
On 11 October Erdogan denounced the Israeli bombings of Gaza. But ten days later Turkish authorities “politely sent away” Hamas’ political leader Ismail Haniyeh and his entourage. It came after footage circulated on social media of him giving prayers of thanks while watching the 7 October attack on TV in Istanbul.
Then, soon after, Erdogan declared that Hamas was a “liberation organisation” working for the freedom of its land and its people. But, in the interests of Turkish capitalism, he has not severed substantial economic relations with the Zionist state.
Imperialism and Zionism are catapulting millions of people into the horrors of war. Total opposition to such forces—and workers’ struggle from below—are needed more than ever.
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