Corbyn says sanctions on Turkey could be needed if ‘appalling’ attacks on Kurdish areas of Syria continue
The British government has faced criticism for failing to act over Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. The UK’s NATO ally is attacking largely-Kurdish fighters who led the way in defeating Daesh (Isis/Isil). Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, has expressed ‘deep concern’, insisting that “there needs to be a withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria”. And in a new interview with JOE, he has gone further, saying:
We would go straight away to the UN… to demand a ceasefire. And I think, in the event of no ceasefire, then you have to start talking about what economic and other actions one would take against the Turkish government to stop this.
I think that the behaviour of Turkey in invading the Kurdish area in the north is absolutely appalling.
And calling for a “multilateral approach” to stopping the invasion, he said:
Let’s not get involved in another war. Let’s get involved in peace.
— PoliticsJOE (@PoliticsJOE_UK) October 11, 2019
Turkey launched its “illegal invasion” of northern Syria (aka Rojava) this week to attack largely-Kurdish fighters who were key in defeating Daesh. Over 11,000 such fighters died in this war, which received limited support from Western governments.
Turkish forces have pushed deeper into north-eastern Syria on the third day of the invasion, as civilian casualties mounted, international criticism of the campaign intensified, and 70,000 people reportedly fled the violence.
Turkey has a large Kurdish population, and is currently at war with Kurdish communities both at home and abroad because of their demands for self-determination. According to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, it has committed numerous war crimes in the process. And as The Canary previously reported:
Rojava, meanwhile, has led a green democratic revolution in the middle of Syria’s brutal war. Its system is feminist, socialist, and opposes all religious and ethnic discrimination. And both militarily and ideologically, it played a key role in defeating Daesh in Syria…
Politicians speak out
Like Corbyn, other politicians have also spoken up. Labour MEP Julie Ward, for example, gave the following speech:
The West’s abandonment of the Kurds time and time again is a stain on all of us.
Watch my response to the situation of the Kurdish people. pic.twitter.com/8JD57FU8pu
— Julie Ward MEP 🌍🌹🇪🇺✊🌿🌈 (@julie4nw) October 10, 2019
EU council chief Donald Tusk, meanwhile, urged Ankara on Friday to halt its invasion before it triggers another “humanitarian catastrophe”. He said the security concerns Turkey has cited as reasons for its attacks should be dealt with through diplomatic and political means, and that military action only exacerbates civilian suffering, causes further displacement of people, and threatens progress that has been achieved so far in battling Daesh.
Tusk said Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria have been “crucial” in fighting Daesh and that abandoning them “is not only a bad idea” but raises many “questions both of a strategic and moral nature”. He also strongly criticised Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for suggesting he would send 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey to Europe unless the 28-member bloc stops calling Turkey’s action an “invasion”. Tusk said such remarks are “totally out of place”, adding that the EU will never accept refugees being “weaponized and used to blackmail us”.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin also criticised Turkey, saying he doubts the Turkish army has enough resources to promptly take control of Daesh prison camps and sharing fears that the captured Daesh fighters – who have until now been held by the Kurdish-led forces in Rojava – “could just run away”. He added: “We have to be aware of this and mobilise the resources of our intelligence to undercut this emerging tangible threat.”
Smoke billows from targets inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)
On Friday, plumes of black smoke billowed from the Syrian border town of Girê Spî (Tel Abyad) as Turkey continued bombarding the area. Residents fled with their belongings loaded into vehicles, or on foot, and the UN refugee agency has warned tens of thousands of people are on the move seeking safety. Aid agencies warn that nearly half-a-million people near the border are at risk – in scenes similar to those from a few years ago when civilians fled from Daesh.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson had apparently not commented on the invasion at the time of writing. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, meanwhile, had expressed “disappointment” about Turkey’s “incursion”, saying it would undermine the fight against Daesh.
Featured image and additional reporting via Press Association