Welsh Labour Grassroots condemns the Turkish military assault on the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, prompted by the announced withdrawal of US troops from the region.
Turkey’s operation represents an incredible humanitarian risk – especially given its previous assaults on Afrin and Cizre, which saw heavy civilian casualties amounting to ethnic cleansing – and has reportedly already resulted in civilian deaths. Turkey has long persecuted the Kurds and President Erdogan has explicitly stated that the goal of the invasion is “demographic shift”.
The Autonomous Administration’s military forces have been a key ally of the US-led coalition against ISIS and has lost more than 11,000 fighters, with another 21,000 injured. It has also captured an estimated 10,000 ISIS fighters, whose continued safe detention is endangered by the Turkish invasion.
The Administration’s “Rojava Revolution” has brought sweeping democratic reforms to North and East Syria, which have empowered not only the large Kurdish population but also a wide range of other ethnic groups and have facilitated the participation of women at all levels of society, including in positions of political leadership and armed resistance against ISIS. Now these gains are under attack from Turkey – a NATO member and key ally of the UK.
We therefore offer our solidarity to the people of North and East Syria against the Turkish invasion. We call on the UK and Welsh Governments to demand international pressure on Turkey – including through NATO and the United Nations – halt its invasion and to declare an immediate moratorium on arms sales to Turkey. We call on Labour and trade union organisations to offer solidarity to Kurdish communities in Wales and support for economic and diplomatic pressure on Turkey.
We also support Jeremy Corbyn’s call for demilitarisation of the region and for negotiations to secure a political settlement.