The Syrian/Kurd/Turkey situation.

I figured this could use its own thread.

Turkey has agreed to “a pause” in attacks on the Kurds near the Syrian border (they clarified it is not a “ceasefire,” only a “pause” that will “cease only if their demands are met”).

While the administration is fawning over themselves over fixing something they essentially broke by withdrawing US troops, most everyone else cannot figure out how this ceasefire would work.

Where will the Kurds go?

This area where they have settled–what rights does Turkey have to annex it? It’s in Syria, no?

On this point, yes, the area in question is nominally Syrian territory, on the northern & eastern portion of the country. I don’t think Turkey has stated long-term (or short-term) plans to “annex” it. The language I’ve heard is that they intend to set up a security zone, or something along those lines.

And before we get too condemnatory, the US military has carved out a chunk of Syrian territory to the south that we’re exercising effective control and killing any military threat that gets too close.

Turkey intends to push Kurds out of the area, and take millions of Syrian refugees who are currently in Turkey and resettle them (likely forcibly) in whatever area they clear out.

Does this sound like ethnic cleansing to anyone else? No, of course not, the United States would never enable such a thing. Never. Impossible.

Your link says:

“totally remove the terror threat emanating from the PKK/YPG in the north of Syria” doesn’t come across as particularly genocidal on its face, but I suppose it’s possible that it’s implemented in a way that amounts to ethnic cleansing. I guess we’ll see.

It should be noted that Turkey will be occupying much of the Syrian Kurds’ best agricultural land.


Check out this Normalized Difference Vegetation Index map of Syria. One can see that the border area with Turkey has a lot of the higher crop yield potential land.

Well, if one is familiar with the treatment of Kurds in Turkey, what with the arbitrary arrest, torture, extrajudicial killings, and so on; one might have a less sanguine view of Turkish restraint.

Would you, as someone apparently familiar with their treatment, say that the Kurds in Turkey have been the victims of ethnic cleansing?

Let’s not forget the huge psychological lift given to ISIS fighters, who can claim to be refugees and then relocate to parts West.

I’d say the Kurds in Turkey are in a different boat than anyone in Syria. Turkey is perfectly happy with severe repression of Kurds in Turkey, but the major reason for the invasion is to create a place to put all the wretched Syrian refugees they don’t want in their country anymore. And since the definition of “Kurdish terrorist” is pretty much interchangable with our term “Kurd,” it’s just a different deal. So, one doesn’t have to do a whole lot of creative thinking to figure out the reasons for mass graves being discovered in southern Turkey like 10 years ago or so.

I mean, the whole Turkish view on this is nuts. They’re looking at thousands of square miles of Syria that just doesn’t have a whole lot of “there” there, and they want to dump millions of refugees there, and they seem to have this idea that the world will rush in with tens of billions of dollars to provide housing, food, electricity, water, hospitals, and so on. When we’re talking about this level of delusion, assuming rationality isn’t a strong bet.

Note that “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” are often two separate terms. While the latter can include genocide, it can also refer to forced relocation.

You are correct, and in this case, as Ravenman mentioned, I think it’s likely the Syrian refugees that are at most risk of forced relocation. And that’s not to say that Turkey isn’t going to be shitty to the Kurds in the area. I suspect they will be, much like they are shitty to the Kurds in Turkey. I just don’t think they’re going to kill them all / most or even drive the majority of them out of the area.

Underline mine: I am parsing that as “are at most at risk of forced relocation”. Is this correct?

No, not all. Just some. A few thousand or a couple tens of thousands, what’s really the big deal?

IMHO, they will kill as many as they think that they can get away with killing without alienating their allies. With the US as an ally, that was a relatively small (but still, IMO unacceptable) number. With us as either no longer being an ally, or being an ally that doesn’t condemn such acts, then they will be much more free about committing massacres. Really, I do think that their concern about a reaction from the US (and to a lesser extent, other Western European nations) is the only thing that has prevented an unmitigated slaughter of the Kurds by the Turks.

The treatment the Kurds were getting in Iraq before we intervened in that is the least of the sort of thing I am thinking.

And of course, the ones that they don’t kill, they will force out into the desert to fend for themselves, with no arable land, no potable water, no shelter, no infrastructure of any sort. That way, the vast majority that die due to the relocation happen due to “natural causes”, rather than by direct military violence. That is what is at risk in “forced relocation”.

Lets everybody keep their hands clean and allowed to play plausible deniability about their culpability in causing the suffering and death of others.

That wasn’t really what I was intending to communicate. I think that Turkey is more likely to try to force-relocate the millions of Syrian refugees that are currently in Turkey back across the border into this ‘safe zone’ they’re setting up than they are to try to force-relocate the current Kurdish residents within that ‘safe zone’. It’s possible they’ll do both, or neither one, or the opposite of what I think (clear out the safe zone but not force the refugees into it).

For those with access to the Washington Post, you should check out this incredible photojournalist spread on the situation in a couple Syrian towns before and after the Turkish attack.

In a town called Qamishli, residents thought the attack would be in a different area so they would be safe. On the night of October 9, mortars started falling, including one outside a house. A husband/father was injured, and his wife might never walk again due to spinal damage. There’s picture of her in surgery that is hard to forget.

Two days later, a seven year old girl and her old brother were injured by another mortar. The girl lost her leg, and there’s a powerful photo of her with a teddy bear. Her brother was killed. There’s also pictures of a U.S. military convoy retreating, and a toy store remaining open despite the war (the owner hoping that parents will buy toys to comfort their kids).

Every war has these tragedies, but we shouldn’t numb ourselves to the sights and stories of what is going on. Especially if you are of the opinion, like me, that this could have been avoided had we had a President not so eager to make kissy faces to an autocrat.

That’s slightly at odds with the post a few above yours:

But I have no idea how well this area could support whatever refugees get dumped there. Turkey could be creating its own West Bank.

So, Turkey’s excuse is that their ethnic cleansing of the Kurds isn’t anything personal; they just need to get them out of the way so they can get on with their ethnic cleansing of Syrians. And besides, it’s not like the Kurds really count, anyway, because they’re all terrorists.

I’m having a very hard time seeing how anyone can defend this.

I don’t understand what contradiction you are trying to point out.

"They’re looking at thousands of square miles of Syria that just doesn’t have a whole lot of “there” there, "

is at odds with

" It should be noted that Turkey will be occupying much of the Syrian Kurds’ best agricultural land"
“It is dotted with dozens of villages and towns, unlike the barren, desert regions to the south.”


I’m not sure why you think agricultural land comes with housing, water, electricity, hospitals, schools, and housing for several million people.

To phrase it another way, WTF are you talking about?

Dozens of villages and towns might come with water, housing and schools. But if your point was, there isn’t a completely up to date and unoccupied metropolis waiting for refugees, uh yeah. You’re super correct.