A first internationalist statement against the newly fanning flames of war over Syria has been published on the International Communist Tendency‘s website, which puts the latest maneuver by the Trump-administration, and its apparent complicity with the Erdoğan regime, in the context of global rivalries between the USA and Assad’s Russian patron reemerging as a great power in a regional alliance with Tehran.
It was obvious from the beginning of the war against [Syria’s] Bashar el Assad (2011) that Turkey intended to invade north-east Syria alongside its border (an area of some 30 kilometers deep and 420 kilometers long). Turkey only participated in the war against Isis/Daech after a long delay, and never with much conviction. For Erdoğan it was just an excuse to pursue his eternal single aim, that of combating all the Kurdish militias in Syria, but especially those fighting alongside the Coalition in territory bordering Turkey. The only possible explanation for this attitude is his intention to prevent the formation of an autonomous Kurdish state after the Syrian war ends. Strategically, Erdoğan aims to prevent not only the birth of a second Kurdish state in the area, which could in the near future be linked to the one in Iraq, but also to halt a political and military recovery of the Turkish Kurdish Party (PKK), considered the number one enemy of Ankara, the “terrorist” force that has to be fought at all costs, the cause of all the evils that are affecting the fragile Turkish economy.
In this regard, it does not matter that Erdoğan’s military move is clearly against international law which, even if it is a bourgeois deceit and merely a useful tool for the great imperialist powers, should have at least a minimum of validity in resolving issues like this between the various imperialisms. It counts for nothing that the Kurds in question (YPG) were the ones who fought alongside the Americans and shouldered the greater weight of the war against Isis. While the Americans and the rest of the Coalition bombed the “caliphate” positions in a sort of video war game, the Kurdish militias fought on the ground, losing thousands of militants, either dead or wounded. Nor does it matter that the Kurds of the YPG have never had such close relations with the “terrorists” of the PKK as Erdogan maintains, other than sporadic military ties in the fight against Isis, and a common Stalinist ideology, which we have always denounced. (1)
The important thing for Erdogan is that the Kurdish “nationalist curse” should not give him sleepless nights or disrupt his drive for Sunni leadership throughout the region, or to make Turkey an oil hub in the Mediterranean as well as control a strategic area like that of north-east Syria.
If all this has been obvious since 2011, the position of the United States is less clear. Trump has accustomed us to the “bipolar” attitude of his entire administration, both in terms of behavior and in terms of domestic and foreign policy, and it is apparent even here. Nevertheless, there is a logic in the attitude of Trump and his faithful collaborator Pompeo. The USA did not enter Syria to destroy Daech, but, on the contrary, originally contributed to its birth, arming and financing it on a par with Turkey and its allies, in order to prevent Russia from continuing to have the use of Syrian ports and naval bases. Its other aims were: to contain the Iranian presence in the Gulf, to undermine the Shiite coalition (Assad’s Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqis, Iranians and the Houthi rebels in Yemen) which in Syria (but not only there) contended for supremacy over the entire Persian Gulf under the aegis of Russia, as well as the Mediterranean, the major oil and gas pipelines that flow from the north-east of Russia down to Iran towards Europe, and the Arabian Sea. All of this seriously damaged US imperialist aims and its allies in the region.
But Russian military intervention in the Syrian war (2014) shifted the balance of power on the ground to the point where Assad’s government, from being on the point of falling, has remained in power, whilst the war of all against all has formally ended in favor of the Moscow-Damascus axis. Previous peace attempts, better defined as attempts at partitioning Syria (the Sochi Accords)(2) have failed, so Trump, while realizing this was a defeat, thought it better to cut his losses, but under certain conditions. The first, hidden behind a hypocritical statement in which Trump asked “What are we doing in Syria spending money on small tribal wars?”, was to abandon Syria by withdrawing the troops. This was nothing but the implementation of a previously decided plan, even if his collaborators have forced him to keep a military contingent of a couple of thousand men and two hundred military advisers there.
While deploring Turkey’s initiative to invade the north-east of Syria and shamelessly denying that he has turned a blind eye to Erdoğan’s aggression against the Kurds, the USA’s other faithful ally, the withdrawal of most US-troops has in fact given the green light to the Turkish army. Ankara’s stated aim is to create a broad security zone along the Turkish border to be transformed into a place of refuge for the almost three million Syrian refugees. In reality the aim is to achieve all the objectives previously underlined. For the USA it was like saying: the war is not over, but the destabilization of the area is useful in weakening the Assad regime and its great ally, Russian imperialism. Erdoğan has thus been allowed a free hand by the USA, even at the tragic cost of more of the bloodletting that has already engulfed Syria (3) for eight years, all due to the insatiable thirst of the imperialist actors who are operating in this tragic land of death and refugees. The latter are the victims of a world crisis that first triggers, then exacerbates, the conflicts that are capitalism’s means of survival of capitalism with its incurable contradictions.
Fighting capitalism for the only possible alternative – communism – means fighting war in all its manifestations, combating imperialism in all its guises as the main instigator of war. This also means not falling into the nationalist game of the Kurdish minorities who, in order to pursue their objective – a bourgeois and capitalist nation state – hitch their wagon to imperialism and become a tool that, once its usefulness is over, is left in the toolbox. This is the case of the YPG, exploited by the USA against Isis and then handed over to Turkish imperialism. In the midst of this devastating crisis that produces war upon war, it is not the birth of new nationalisms, whether Kurdish or of any other ethnic group that is the order of the day, but the proletarian revolution, the only one that can put a stop to crises, wars and the inhuman arrogance of imperialism.
Fd, 10 October 2019
(Accentuation by the editor)
3 For more see: The War in Syria and Shifting Imperialist Positions (August 14, 2017); Syria: The Real Significance of the US Bombardment (April 16, 2018); Syria – The Final Chapter? (August 19, 2017) and many more on our site.