IC Afrin Resistance Analysis
about the Relevance of UNSC Truce in Respect to Turkey’s War on Afrin
On 25 January 2018 UNSC Resolution 2401 on 30-day cessation of hostilities in Syria to enable humanitarian aid was unanimously adopted. According to this it was mentioned that especially the siege on East Goutha, Yarmuk, Fua and Kefraya should be lifted and ceasefire should be implemented all over Syria. Another important point of the decision is, that ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and other terrorist groups listed in the UNSC’s “list of terrorist organisations” were excluded from the truce. Within this framework it is pretty obvious that SDF-YPG are included in the truce and Turkey’s attempt to invade Afrin should be stopped. However, the Turkish Government manipulated the truce by claiming that the UNSC truce would not include Afrin. Upon this, notably permanent members of UNSC like USA, Russia, France and other members felt the necessity to remind Turkey that the truce includes also Afrin. Despite this, the Turkish government did not apply truce, notably at Rajo and Jindiresse and at all other fronts Turkey widened its invasion attempts openly. Only within 3 days after UNSC declaration should have been implemented at least 33 civilians and dozens of casualties due to the Turkish attacks were reported by local sources and international observers. Further about 100 deaths of both SDF fighters and Turkish soldiers including their jihadists allies have been reported.
However, Turkey does not care about decisions of international institutions and international law. In this point, this is a huge problem which need to be questioned. Why do international institutions not force Turkey to apply their decisions and international laws?
This is an important issue for the future of both the international institutions as well as the Middle East. Turkey is not only ignoring the UNSC ceasefire decision. Already by starting the offensive for invading Afrin on 20 January 2018, Turkey violated international law. On the other hand, Turkey violates the principles of international law everyday by violating human rights and sweeping democracy away notably against Kurds and other opposition groups. Despite being a member of NATO, Turkey signs security agreements and does weapon trade with states that are not NATO members. This and similar examples show that Turkey seems to be entitled to violate international law boundaries, while international forces confine themselves to only warn Turkey. They have not yet started a deterrent initiative and intervention that can stop Erdogan’s government’s unlawful acts. AKP and Erdogan Government do not truly believe in democracy and are working on institutionalising their totalitarian regime. Erdogan declared some time ago that he doesn’t believe in democracy. For him democracy is a vehicle, and at a proper time he knows how to get off this vehicle. Until getting his today’s power, Erdogan managed to hide his real ideology and deceived the international community. When AKP was newly founded, they espoused formally democracy ideology and in order to become the ruling party they looked for support mostly in EU and western countries. They were promising that they would rule with democracy and would care about international law. However, today we see that they are heading for the opposite direction. They try to legitimate this immoral and hypocritical behaviours within the ideology of Political Islam by calling it “engaging in deception”. Meaning, in order to reach to their real target they do not think that it is wrong to be in such decisive behaviours. In connection to with this, they set up their foreign policy based on ruling within the territory of the old Ottoman empire including Northern African Countries and the whole region of the Middle East.
Erdogan government argues that in history, the western world caused the collapse of the Ottomans, and still considers today’s international institutions and laws responsible for this collapse. Recently regarding western countries he mentioned “They will face the Ottoman slap”. This speech was also based on the idea that the western world is responsible for Ottoman collapse and they will face a new Ottoman. It is pretty well known that Erdogan government collaborates with radical Islamic jihadists and organizations like “Muslim Brotherhood” in order to reach their regional targets of their foreign policy. Based on this, it is obvious that the Erdogan government correlated with jihadist terrorists, considering the western world as an enemy.
During the last years, Erdogan government followed a policy to detach people of Turkey from the west. Their policy aims at demonising the Western world and international institutions by holding them responsible for any negative development in Turkey. On the same base any criticism pointing at the Turkish government is assumed as “a game of the Western world” by accusing and oppressing the opposition for any critic as “fatherland traitors”. Looking at these parameters, it is obvious why Erdogan government does not care about the western world, international laws and what their real target is.
But why do international institutions still tolerate Turkey despite all of these realities? This is the question and also an other dimension of this question is pretty important. As far as we can see, the international community is up to a certain extent aware of Erdogan government’s tendencies. In order not to make Turkey further drift away from international law, international institutions and state lead a soft and acquiescent policy towards Turkey. However, we have to mention that one of the main mistakes is following such a policy. Because the Erdogan government benefits from this. Unless Erdogan faces a harsh critic and opposition, he will use this approach to show that he would be right and motivate the society in favour of himself. Moreover, by targeting western countries he wants to scare western countries and pushes them to tolerate any lawbreaking act of Turkey in order to not lose Turkey.
On the other hand, the existence of global competition between USA and Russia, and the geopolitical location of Turkey pushes those powers to keep Turkey on their side and this gives Erdogan government many options to use for its benefit. Both global powers close their eyes in front of Erdogan’s obvious rights violations and mistakes just in order to pull Turkey on their side. Turkey, by benefiting from being a member of NATO and the USA’s old/new strategic ally, and on other hand by winking eyes to Shanghai 5’s, Russia, tries to enhance its popularity. So far Turkey has rather benefited from the contradictions between both powers in the course of its unjust and anti-democratic aims than to chose one main ally out of the two. This causes great damages for the societies in the Middle East, but also means big expenses for the Western world as well. Even though the tie between ISIS and Turkey is known, it has been tolerated to maintain certain political balances. The western countries already paid a high price for this policy; such as the bomb attacks in Paris, London and Brussels killing hundreds of civilians or the downing of the Russian jet. The wrong policy of tolerating Turkey’s aggressive attitudes “for the sake of balances and not losing Turkey” has further strengthened Turkey’s offensive policies against international institutions, human rights and democracy.
The present Western policies have failed to stop Turkey’s recklessness and to push Turkey towards respecting international law, decisions and criteria of democracy. To achieve this more serious, determined and deterrent policies are needed. In this regard, the UNSC declaration on a truce in Syria will be a test bench for international associations to revise their policies and to oblige Turkey to respect and implement the UNSC truce in Afrin. This can be a beginning for international insitutions to return from their mistakes and start a correct policy. Moreover, it is a duty of the UNSC to stop Turkey’s unlawful invasion on Syria’s territory. And it is expected that this duty to be fulfilled. If not, it will cause serious damage to the credibility and reputation of the international bodies and laws among societies worldwide. Further it will encourage other states to act unlawfully, too.
First and foremost, stopping Turkey’s invasion and aggression will mean to stop the killings of innocent people which happen every day and at every hour in Afrin. International institutions – due to the purpose of their existence – are responsible to maintain international law and their humanitarian duties. Otherwise, they will have no reliability and credibility any more.