In a latest interview with Turkish state broadcaster TRT World, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made clear his ambition for Ankara’s navy offensive towards Kurds in northern Syria. In an nearly two-hour program on October 24, he defined his plan for demographic change within the Kurdish area. Erdogan emphasised the resettlement of greater than three million Syrian Arab refugees to the Kurdish heartland of Syria. He added that the proposed safe-zone close to the Turkey-Syria border with the constructing of a metropolis for refugees can be a historic victory.
What was stunning was Erdogan’s declare that the dry setting in northern Syria and the Kurdish way of life is his motive for planning to vary the demographics of this area. Through the interview, he confirmed a map of Kurdish territory — often called Rojava — in Syria and stated that it belongs to Arabs, not Kurds, since it’s not an appropriate place for Kurds. Erdogan’s logic is that as these areas are basically a desert, then solely Arabs can stay within the desert.
The Turkish president’s declare raises questions: Is that area a desert and are Kurds not appropriate for this setting? To reply this, it’s important to grasp the distinction between northern Syria and southern Turkey as each components are inhabited by Kurds. The “desert territory” that Erdogan mentions is only a few minutes away from Turkey’s Kurdish area.
For the reason that 1916 Sykes-Picot Settlement that carved up the Center East between the British and French, the Kurds and their territory have been divided throughout Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. On the Turkey-Syria border, there’s a easy wire separating the 2 nations. That’s the reason each side are only a few minutes away from one another and have the identical terrain. So, how is it doable to say that Kurds who stay in Syria have a unique way of life from those that stay subsequent door in Turkey?
With this in thoughts, it’s clear that Erdogan’s declare is illogical. Added to that, there isn’t any desert in northern Syria and the approach to life of Arabs has modified as properly — they don’t stay within the desert. So, why does Erdogan insist on altering the demographics within the Kurdish area of Syria?
The Arab Belt
To reply this query, you will need to perceive that this technique of adjusting the inhabitants of the Kurdish area shouldn’t be new and didn’t begin with Erdogan. Moderately, it was a Syrian regime mission from the mid-1960s when the Baath occasion determined to create an “Arab belt.” This consisted of a 10-to-15-kilometer area alongside the Syria–Turkish border. The plan anticipated the deportation of 140,000 Syrian Kurds residing in 332 villages located inside this space and changing them with Syrian Arabs. The plan was to separate Kurds so they might not stay in a united territory in northern Syria, stopping them from any future declare for independence.
But the plan was not realized till the 1970s when round 4,000 Arab households have been moved to 41 farms in Syria’s Kurdish-majority Jazira area in addition to to 15 farms north of Raqqa. Led by Hafez al-Assad, the Arabization marketing campaign of Jazira was halted in 1976, however the established order remained unchanged. On account of Arabization, the Kurdish area in Syria — not like different Kurdish components of Turkey, Iran and Iraq — shouldn’t be a united territory.
At present, Erdogan is planning to use the identical initiative. He’s attempting to vary the Kurdish area within the Center East by eliminating Kurdish social and political constructions on this a part of Syria. For some observers, it’s believed that the Turkish president shouldn’t be going to cease there and can lengthen this plan to Kurdish areas of Iraq and Iran as properly.
Turkey’s border with Iran means the same scenario to that of northern Syria may happen. On this area of northwest Iran, there are blended ethnic teams, together with a Kurdish majority and an Azari minority — with the latter being in favor of Turkey.
The northwest area of Iran has skilled various Kurdish uprisings, such because the 1918-22 Simko Shikak revolution. Since Reza Shah Pahlavi, Azari folks — who’re Shia Muslims — have been settled on this area to forestall the motion and mobilization of Kurds.
Ankara has supported Azari nationalists and, because of this, these teams have inspired Turkey’s aggressive habits in Syria. As an example, when a majority of Iran’s parliament condemned Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, Azari parliamentarians similar to Ghazi Pour and Muhammad Hasannajad criticized the transfer by his colleagues within the Majlis.
Not like Syrian Arabs, the Azari inhabitants in Iran see themselves as a part of Turkey, they usually name for linking Iran’s Azerbaijan province with Turkey. On October 20, Ahmat Yigit Yildrim, a Turkish, pro-Erdogan parliamentarian, tweeted that after northern Syria, it might be northwest Iran’s flip to be attacked. He additionally added that Iran’s northwest province can be a part of a better Turkey.
Erdogan’s assist for Azari teams in Iran is more likely to end in added stress between Ankara and Tehran within the close to future.
Iraqi Kurdistan may very well be one other sufferer of Erdogan’s plan. Lately, Turkey has bombed Kurdish border villages in Iraq. Ankara claims that fighters aligned with the Kurdistan Staff’ Occasion, which the Turks name a terrorist group, use this area as a base to assault Turkey. These raids which have largely focused the areas near the Turkey-Iraq border have brought on the evacuation of lots of of villages and the displacement of 1000’s of individuals.
The implementation of Erdogan’s technique depends upon political developments in Syria. If he is ready to settle three million Syrian Arab refugees in Kurdish areas of northern Syria, then this may very well be the beginning of his grasp plan.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.