Even attacking a school turned hospital in the Shengal (Sinjar) region in Iraqi Kurdistan and killing survivors of the genocide of 2014 hasn’t triggered any reaction whatsoever from Turkey’s allies in NATO and its friends in the European Union.
I wonder if Erdoğan is surprised about this, wringing his hands about the atrocities he can get away with and calculating his next move. A new genocide may be the result. Then, if current dynamics keep repeating themselves, western countries can recognize that genocide in their parliaments and feel good about themselves.
Yes, I’m very cynical here. And I have every reason to be. The Yezidi genocide was carried out by ISIS and not by Turkey, but Turkey has enabled ISIS throughout the years that these gangs were holding and expanding territories in Iraq and Syria. This was widely reported on and an established fact. For those who dared to see it, it was clear that the Turkish state’s mindset and that of ISIS were not so different. Both have so little respect for diversity that they want to crush everybody who diverts. Both detest women so much that they want to fully subdue them. Both want strong state power, with full obedience from its subjects. If they have to kill large groups of people because they stand in the way of their fascist dreams, they will.
In the same week as the attacks on Shengal in Northwest-Iraq, Turkey has increased its drone activity in Syria as well. No less than 25 drone strikes were carried out in five days, according to several reliable sources on the ground. Several casualties were reported, both among civilians and fighters. Simultaneously, Turkey and the so-called Syrian National Army (a mishmash of jihadist groups fighting as Turkey’s proxies, some of its fighters formerly known as ISIS members) have brought military reinforcements to both Ain Issa (south of Kobani) and Tal Tamer (further east and the gateway to Jazira, the area held by the People’s Protection Units -YPG and later Syrian Democratic Forces – SDF since 2012, east of territory Turkey is already occupying).
It remains unclear what can be expected in the short term. It is no secret that Turkey has its eyes on Syrian lands across the border that is now autonomously governed and that is militarily protected by the SDF. There is a complicated situation alongside the border, with Assad’s troops assisting the SDF in protecting the border. The US army is still there, the Russian army of course. ISIS following the situation closely, also in Iraq, ready to strike when the opportunity arises. If Turkey manages to either take Kobani or Jazira, or both, the chance that grave human rights violations will commence is 100%.
It’s already happening in Afrin and in the area east of the Euphrates (the cities of Tal-Abyad/Girespi and Serekanye/Ras Al-Ayn and the land in between) occupied by Turkey. Displacement and ethnic cleansing, abductions, rape, disappearances, torture, looting, confiscation of property. By letting Turkey get away with those crimes and with attacks on genocide survivors in Shengal, the charge that more communities will be subject to Turkey’s fascist mindset, is increasing every day. On Saturday night, a Turkish drone bombed a car in Kobani, followed by an attack on a car just outside Qamislo on Sunday morning. It’s impressive, indeed, how rapidly Turkey manages to advance technologically, but makes no progress whatsoever ideologically, meaning towards democracy, reconciliation and justice. Ideologically, it is even regressing towards the 20th century, with its expansionist dreams.
Genocides are build in features of this system. We all know what happened to the Armenians and Assyrians (communities that have space to breathe now in Northeast-Syria) at the beginning of the 20th century. We all know what happened in Dersim in the 1930s, and in other Kurdish regions after the Turkish state was established in 1923. We know why there are hardly any Greeks left in Anatolia – part of the reason was a ‘population exchange,’ which is a euphemism for ethnic cleansing.
If Turkey isn’t somehow restrained now, the worst will happen to Yezidis, Kurds, and/or others. Don’t count on me to applaud any genocide recognitions years after the facts. Act, or consider yourself complicit.
Fréderike Geerdink is an independent journalist. Follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her acclaimed weekly newsletter Expert Kurdistan.