The Ankara and Damascus governments have a common interest in undermining the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria (AANES) which has become a beacon of plurality for the war-torn region, according to Firas Qassas, an opposition politician in Syria.
Turkey’s recent airstrikes, which started last month and are likely soon to be supporting a ground operation against Kurdish armed groups in North and East Syria, aim to sabotage the only existing successful governance project in the country, said Qassas, the leader of the Modernity and Democracy Party for Syria.
Qassas shared his views on a potential reconciliation between Ankara and Damascus with Hawar News Agency. The governments of the two neighbouring countries have been signalling a possible retuirn to cordial relations, after a decade of acrimony as a result of Turkey’s support for Syrian rebels.
“The Turkish government wants to control the Autonomous Administration areas. The goals behind this policy are to undermine the desire for co-existence among the various Syrian components, and to sabotage the democratic Autonomous Administration project, which represents the only estblishment that has achieved real progress in the issues of democratic society, women’s empowerment, and political struggle,” Qassas said referring to the AANES.
The Turkish attacks started in spite of ceasefire agreements guaranteed by the United States and Russia, and reveal the true politics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to the politician.
“There are no principles that govern his words and his behaviour,” Qassas said about the Turkish president. “Erdoğan works only for his personal interest and the narrow interest of his party. His primary concern, contrary to pluralistic logic, is to belittle and target the opposing side using racist policies.”
Since 2018, the Turkish government has been talking about establishing a safe zone along the Turkish border, and having taken control of certain territories following two military incursions in into its neighbour Syria, Ankara now wants to connect the lands it controls in northwest Syria with those in the northeast. But Turkey also has other ambitions, Qassas said:
“What Turkey wants, apart from preserving the occupation of the regions it acquired with its agents in Syria, is to bring about a demographic and cultural change that serves the Turkish state at the expense of the culture, will, and interests of the Syrians, and these are the reasons for the Turkification policies.”
In terms of their aims, there is not much difference between the attitudes of the Turkish and Syrian governments, according to Qassas. “The two regimes are two sides of the same coin, and they agree on racial superiority and fighting the values of pluralism, coexistence, and recognition of the other,” he said.
“Both Erdoğan and the Syrian president Bashar Assad are running tyrannical regimes that seek to achieve their interests even at the expense of killing people and ruining their lives, Qassas said. Moreover, both governments are existentially hostile to the logic of the Autonomous Administration in northern Syria,” he added.
In response to the Turkish government’s repeated announcements that a ground operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria is imminent, a 29 November UN Security Council Briefing warned against the consequences of such an aggression.
Mazloum Abdi, Commander-in-Chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on Sunday welcomed the UN position and expressed his hope that this position will also be reflected on the ground.
The heads of the United States House Foreign Affairs Committee on Saturday also expressed concerns about recent Turkish attacks against northern Syria, underlining the possible counter-effect of the Turkish aggression on the struggle against the Islamic State.