As the Syrian crisis enters its tenth year the interventionist parties want to prolong the life of this crisis to make the most of it and divide Syria. In this context our agency interviewed the expert Dr. Thoreau Redcrow, an American specialist in international conflicts and Kurdish affairs. The text of the dialogue reads.
1. As the Syrian crisis enters its tenth year. What are the dimensions of the international conflict in it?
Unfortunately for the people of Syria, their country has become a global chessboard where many nations have been pushing their own geopolitical interests through the use of proxy forces. Since the US and Russia/Iran don’t want to fight an open conflict with each other in their own nations, they use Syria as an arena to test each other’s will and commitment. Moreover, Turkey wishes to expand their neo-Ottoman project and is hoping to annex northern Syria for themselves or form some break away territory like Northern Cyprus which they can control. Meanwhile, the Autonomous Administration is attempting to establish their own form of local self-governance built on a multi-ethnic and gender equal vision, that is unique to the wider region.
2. All regional and international parties involved in Syria take the fight against terrorism as an excuse, but what are their real goals?
The term “terrorist” is often times not helpful, as it can be a synonym for “armed opponent”. However, if any group meets the definition as commonly understood then ISIS and al-Qaeda (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham aka HTS) would, and both of them have been armed and assisted by the Turkish Government in Syria. Most groups in Syria at present could say they are battling terrorism by fighting either of these two groups, for instance the SDF/YPG/YPJ and the US Military both have been fighting ISIS, while the Syrian Government and Russia are battling al-Qaeda (HTS) in Idlib. Meanwhile, the one nation that sets up outposts in al-Qaeda territory and doesn’t fight them is Turkey, as HTS are essentially their ground forces in Idlib.
3. Throughout history there has been a Turkish-Iranian war; what is the impact of the Turkish-Iranian conflict on Syria and the future of the region?
I wouldn’t say there’s been a war between the two, in fact I think Iran is the one country in the region which Turkey legitimately fears and doesn’t believe they could defeat in a direct conflict. In the same way that the US and Russia can’t openly fight one another since both possess nuclear weapons, Turkey and Iran both realize that fighting one another directly would badly damage both nations, so they battle in a third party territory through proxy forces (Iran has Hezbollah and Shia militias, while Turkey has various jihadist groups like al-Qaeda / HTS and the defeated remnants of ISIS which they’ve formed into their so called “Syrian National Army”).
4. Erdogan is seeking to establish a Sunni state in the region led by him and that includes parts of Syria that include Aleppo, Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, and Hasaka; why does the international community not cut the road ahead, or is there an international trend to redraw the region again?
The Turkish Army looted the industrial base of Aleppo very early on the conflict, and once they realized that Assad’s Government wouldn’t be overthrown, their Plan B was simply to take as much territory as possible to either form a puppet state like Northern Cyprus, or directly annex and steal the territory from Syria as they already did historically with Hatay. Whether they are allowed to do this will depend if the US supports such land theft, and if Russia is willing to assist the Syrian Government in driving Turkey out from the lands they now illegally occupy. I should add, that Turkey also wanted to keep “Rojava” or the Autonomous Administration early on from spanning the entire border of Turkey and reaching the sea potentially, which is what motivated their invasion and occupation of Afrin and backing of jihadi groups in Idlib.
5. Why has the Syrian crisis not been solved yet? What is the impact of the international conflict on the shape of the Middle East in general?
Syria is not a problem to be solved, but a geopolitical prize to be won. Early on the US was hoping to prevent Russia from having their only Naval Base on the Mediterranean Sea in Tartus if Assad was overthrown, but that plan was unsuccessful. Now, likewise, the Syrian Government is trying to prevent the U.S. from having any airstrips or bases in Eastern Syria within Kurdish areas, which the U.S. is hoping to use to counter Iranian regional influence and the so called “Shia highway” from Beirut to Tehran. This is also taking place in the wider picture of a regional-wide battle for influence across the Middle East between 3 factions, (faction 1) Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Houthis in Yemen vs (faction 2) Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan vs (faction 3) Turkey, Qatar, and Azerbaijan. With the Autonomous Administration and SDF in Syria being neutral with faction 1, gaining support with faction 2, and at war with faction 3. Meanwhile Russia backs faction 1, the US backs faction 2, and both of them at times try to win the favor of faction 3.
6. Kurdish, for how long will the Turkish Kurdish conflict last? What are the main objectives of Turkey to launch attacks on the Kurdish-majority regions of northern and eastern Syria?
The Kurdish conflict will last as long as the 40+ million Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran do not have equal rights to exist as Kurds, and either autonomy or independence in all of the areas in which they live. Turkey’s motivations are first that they have a very deep fear about the 20+ million Kurds within Turkey rising up in mass against their continued occupation and brutality. This fear spills over into Syria, as they fear Kurds in Turkey will take inspiration from their example, and want to establish local governance in a similar manner.
7. Turkey committed grave violations against the Kurds in Syria during its attacks in Afrin, Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad and caused the displacement of the Kurds from their lands. Why is it not held accountable internationally despite all the documents and evidence?
Turkey is not held accountable because they are in NATO, which means they can carry out war crimes and be shielded from blame. American and Western media also does not cover Turkey’s war crimes in the same way they would if Assad’s Government was carrying them out, because it doesn’t fit with the geopolitical objectives of the US military. The US, UK, and Germany know that if Turkey was held accountable for their war crimes, then the US who sells them the jets, the UK who sells them the missiles, and Germany who sells them the tanks would also be guilty.
8. What is the role of world powers in fueling the Turkish Kurdish conflict? And why does the United Nations and the United States of America not play their role in resolving the Kurdish issue?
Turkey’s constant need for weapons to use in their fight to oppress their Kurdish population is good for business, and makes NATO nations a lot of money. So that’s the first obstacle. The US is also worried that if they forced Turkey to stop oppressing their Kurdish population, the Turkish Government would realign themselves with Russia instead of NATO, which would ruin NATO’s plan of keeping Russia locked into the Black Sea via the Bosporus. As for the United Nations, they are not that interested in solving the Kurdish issue, as then they would also be forced to solve the Tamil, Balochi, Western Sahara, West Papuan, Ambazonia, Basque, Hazara etc issue. Many nations around the world deny the self-determination of new nations because they know it might also apply to occupied groups within their own. That is a box they are afraid to open.
9. Why does the international community not respond to Ocalan's proposals to solve the Kurdish issue politically away from militarization? Does this have anything to do with the Greater Middle East project?
Ocalan’s ideas are a threat to every nation in the Middle East because they provide an alternative democratic roadmap of how the multi-ethnic mosaic of the region could govern themselves locally, which threatens all of the authoritarian regimes and royal families who use their nations as their personal bank accounts. History shows us that power never gives away their stranglehold easily, they must be made to with force. Luckily the Kurdistan liberation movement has both ideas and arms.
10. How does solving the Kurdish issue affect the problems of the Middle East?
Solving the Kurdish issue would have huge spill over effects for the entire Middle East, as many of the Kurdish groups would like to display an alternative model of democratic governance and defend ideas like religious freedom, and gender equality, which are lacking in much of the region. It’s seen as a Kurdish issue, but it’s really a Middle East issue, as the model that the Kurds want would also appeal to many of the ethnicities in the Middle East as it’s based around local people controlling their own destiny and promoting a sustainable and communal way of life. The Kurds would be the first falling domino to a new Middle East for everyone.