by Sara Flounders, published on Workers World, October 15, 2019
The conflict within the U.S. ruling class about the Turkish invasion of northern Syria has created some confusion about events there. The latest new development — an alliance of Kurdish-based forces with the Syrian national army to defend the border from the Turkish army — may increase that confusion. To clarify the situation as best as possible, we need to state some basic positions and underline some basic facts.
First of all, U.S. imperialism never had, never has and never will have any legitimate “humanitarian” reason to station troops anywhere in Syria. Washington places troops in areas for strategic advantage and/or for economic domination. The reason U.S. troops have been in Syria and elsewhere in the region is for U.S. oil monopolies to control and exploit the natural resources — mainly fossil fuels, oil and gas — so the capitalist owners of these companies can get richer.
For the last eight years, U.S. arms and political influence, and those of other NATO countries, have fed a brutal war that has torn apart Syria, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of Syrian people. This war has also made as many as 10 million Syrians refugees, many within Syria or in neighboring countries and some in Europe. The U.S. goal was to remove the sovereign Syrian government and replace it with a puppet of Western imperialist powers.
In Libya, for example, in 2011 the imperialists succeeded in removing a legitimate government and replaced it with an unstable horror.
Nothing good has come or will come from the presence of U.S. troops, nor from political domination by U.S. imperialism. No one should believe that the racist, misogynist and xenophobic U.S. president has somehow become a peacemaker. Apparently as an electoral strategy, he has ordered the removal of a handful of U.S. troops from northern Syria. Simultaneously the Pentagon is sending 1,800 troops to the Saudi Arabian monarchy to defend the oil fields and continue the genocidal war in Yemen.
Turkey’s war crimes
Second, by sending troops to and arming puppet groups in northern Syria, the reactionary regime of President Recep Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, is committing a war crime. This invasion is naked aggression against Turkey’s neighbor, Syria, the latest of many crimes committed against Syria in the last eight years. This aggression will cause additional suffering to the people of northeastern Syria, who are mainly Kurdish, but whose makeup reflects the many ethnic and religious groups that inhabit the whole of Syria.
Erdogan persecutes Turkey’s own Kurdish population, who are estimated to be 14 to 20 million of Turkey’s 80 million people. The Ankara regime has been using its army, especially in the Kurdish regions, in an attempt to crush the Kurdish people’s movement. Erdogan’s government persecutes opposition political parties and journalists throughout Turkey as it oppresses Turkey’s working class.
That Erdogan has taken some steps in the recent past that put him at odds with either the U.S. or the European Union — buying arms from Russia, participating in conferences with Russia and Iran to settle the war in Syria — should mislead no one into thinking the Turkish president represents any progressive tendency worldwide. Thieves, even those in the same gang, can have a falling out.
We do not at this time know the specifics of the agreement between the Kurdish-based fighters in northern Syria and the legitimate Syrian government, nor can we foresee how it will play out. We applaud, however, any alliance that confronts a local hegemonic power like Turkey and, even more importantly, excludes the imperialist regimes of Europe and the United States, who are the primary oppressors of humanity worldwide.
*Featured Image: TheDefensePost.com: US and Turkish military vehicles during the first joint ground patrol in northeast Syria, September 8, 2019. Image: @tcsavunma/Twitter
Sara Flounders is an American political writer who has been active in ‘progressive’ and anti-war organizing since the 1960s. Sara is Co-Director of the International Action Center (IAC) and a member of the Secretariat of Workers World Party She also frequently writes for Workers World newspaper and publishes articles on the International Action Center website.