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tv   Quadriga - Erdogans Offensive Who Will Help the Kurds  Deutsche Welle  February 1, 2018 6:30pm-7:00pm CET

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i really understand people who say they don't want to stay here. but people who want to stay here and who decided to create something. new in peace time. the people making it possible what needs to happen if tolerance and reconciliation or to stand a chance. darkness cities after war starting march tenth on t w. hello and welcome to quadriga operation all of that is the rather ironic name that turkey has given to the military offensive it's currently waging against kurdish fighters in northern syria president out of one says he simply following up on the defeat of islamic state to finish cleansing the region of terrorists for to turkey
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to syrian kurds or terrorists but to the u.s. and its coalition partners including germany they are or were allies reliable local partners who were instrumental in defeating islamic state yet the west is not exactly rushing to their rescue. is the y p g as the syrian kurd militia is known on the verge of becoming the next victim of middle eastern power politics area ones offensive who will help the kurds that's our topic on quadriga and here i guess it's a pleasure to welcome back to the show she's a legal scholar and a fellow at the happy school of governance here in berlin and she says while the turkish government violates international law in the name of counter terrorism the international community is once again standing still. and it's great to have even back on the program she's from the european center for kurdish studies and. says
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the syrian kurds finally have to focus on their own political interests to keep it k.-k. . only follows its own agenda and will not help them and we will soon be delving deeper into what those acronyms me and finally it's great to have. on the show he is the founder and editor in chief of. a magazine on the islamic world and he says no player can pretend to be surprised the u.s. some european countries but also russia created a set of false expectations and they knew that this would happen. so this is very much a case of one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist to quote that old saying so let me start out by asking all of you to share your views on whether in fact one is justified in viewing the syrian kurdish fighters as a terrorist threat and i'll start out by asking you to the curb on turkey says that
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the why p.g. that's the acronym that stands for this syrian northern syrian kurdish militia is associated with the kurdistan workers' party the p k k which the u.s. and the e.u. do recognize as a terrorist group is he right. well that the fact that that that there is an association between these two groups is a fact in the sense that they share a certain. you know i think heritage political affiliation having said that they are two separate organizations with two distinct histories and goals for arabs who want to claim that. that wife is a terrorist threats to turkey he has to substantiate that the government the turkish government has never actually provided any facts to substantiate that the y.p. she has engaged in acts of terrorism in turkey or targeting turkey as opposed to the p.k. the p.k. has done that but as far as like you choose concern that's not the case so what i
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don't is doing is that sort of you know. conflating these organizations and and presenting them as one in order to provide the justification for his government's intervention into syria if service for your opening statement appears to indicate that you would agree with the wine in regard to the association between the white p.j. militia and the k.k.k. so would you say in fact what b.g. is a terrorist organization well what i would say is that definitely the p.k. k. and the y p g a one and the same organization it really doesn't make any sense to try to differentiate between them for example if you have a look at the personal of the y.p. gee it's all over to make a personal so you can work today of the p.k. k. card or turkey and then you're told to go to syria and then suddenly someone working for the y p g it's also effect that if you have
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a look at who is fighting in the wife e.g. in syria there are libel statistics that more than fifty percent or about fifty percent of those fighting there actually courts from turkey so i think this shows these two points so very clearly that the white. the p.k. k. are really one of the same organization and of course i would agree with you that the white b.g. has not targeted turkey or anything like this this far but of course since it is one organisation it's of course right for turkey that now they have on their border the y.p. g being armed by the united states i mean it's should be quite simple to get those weapons over to turkey and to use them there so in so far i would agree that it's a danger for turkey even though the white did she has not yet targeted meaning you would say other ones offensive is legitimate turkey has legitimate security interests that it has a right to pursue here i do understand the security interests even though there are also other. things why turkey is now into weaning but this doesn't mean that it's
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illegal of course done together other reasons why turkey is intervening how do you interpret the words here is he really just looking to cleanse the region of terrorism or to prevent establishment of a kurdish state. of both but there is another third domestic aspect to it i think a cynical as it sounds good war is always good. to strengthen the leadership and the authority of a government in question a challenge or a contest of government and i think for the other one government this operation is important political terms. the syria policy of turkey was very harmful to turkey and was very let's say electing success leggings a positive outcome for the country and presenting more and more conflict and more and more security challenges so this intervention for turkey is somehow kind of deferring the attention from broader problem in syria and
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a broader domestic problem to one very focused security aspect and he can be sure at least to declare victory to a certain extent as long as he doesn't go deep into syria. and also i think it's an it's a time. unite the country let's not forget that the armed forces the elements of the armed forces that was sent to syria not only now but also a year ago in another operation where suspected of participating in the coup well the ones where the sleeve the usual suspects when it comes to a look at for the responsibles of the of the of the military coup attempt and so he speaks to an audience which is at the same time very nationalistic somehow also vindictive and it provides a good chance politically to remain in the game and to somehow prove themselves a legitimate ruler or a commander in chief i want to come back to some of the domestic political aspects in turkey a bit later but do that judging from your opening statement you do not see legitimate
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security interests here you talked about counterterrorism being used as a pretext to violate international law so you would say even if there is a y p g p k k association and in other words between the militia and a group recognized as a terrorist group still turkey shouldn't be embarking on this offensive well i mean international law is quite clear about the use of force against another country's use of force against another country. well i should say very clear there are there are contradictions there too i mean the law is not there subtle but what is clear is that the use of force can only be on the article fifty one of the un charter it can only be justified in the name of self-defense and when a country when a government claims self-defense cannot just say well i'm acting in self-defense it has to substantiate that has to show that there are attacks or there's an armed attack but sustained and setting on detect coming from the country in question now
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in this case when you read the notification that the turkish government has sent to the security council it's really vague it doesn't even refer to the term armed attack but we do says while there is a third of threats this is not enough to meet that high legal to. schultz to prove that there's actually an armed attack to justify self-defense the government that's what the turkish government also said is that there are these sort of host hall style. missiles being shot from you know by the by the white peachey from what we know we don't know much i think i don't know much but from what we know from the new supports those more those. were shot actually after turkey started its offensive and evade as i said earlier armed attack on the international law really has what we have to talk about sustained high level armed attack to justify that there this is a blatant violation of international law as far as article fifty one is concerned and the security council the u.n. ois c.e.u.
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you know everybody's keeping quiet about. nato members and the u.n. members violation of international law that i find that this calls for i think both only the forces on the ground cared about international law sure and those that do and those that substantiate their arguments on international law basically the syrian regime and russia and what could that prove that produces a thing we can just there's a different show probably we don't have the time to discuss that we'll come back the way that is i think this is the this is the the plight of international law in syria as demonstrated another time and frankly i don't think i think the the turkish government can very well bring the argument and substantiate its claims also in legal terms by saying we are fighting against an insurgent organization in turkey in our own country which is somehow present in a neighboring country and which of which kind of least plan is not directly attack a plan its operations out of this country but i thought to go and it is not that
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they wouldn't but it's very easy to to to make this argument and also i think even to win it i'm not an expert in international law as you are but i think politically it's always a b.s. everybody would make it right there because i would like to come back to the situation of the currents. in northern syria and delve a little bit deeper into something that you said in your opening statement namely that the syrian kurds need to focus on their own political interests so could you give us briefly if you would for those viewers who are not well acquainted with this very very complex picture a bit of a sense of how you see those political interests and how they might diverged for example from what the y.p. gee the militia is looking for. well i think the most important point is to say that the y.p. g s the p.k. is really focused on turkey for them turkey is the place where they come from and turkey is the place where they have to follow. the syrian currents and that's the
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sad story in a way for a long time they always fought for the rights of courts and other countries for example many current followed the iraqi kurds when they fought their fights against saddam hussein and even before and then many kurds in the one thousand nine hundred syrian kurds joined the. kurds in turkey and there was never actually before the syrian civil war started kurdish syrian insurgent group or something like this something like this simply didn't didn't exist and i think it's high time that the syrian kurds really focus on what they want to achieve in syria not so much to focus on what is happening in syria and what's happening in iraq the kurds let's say the political parties in iraq and in turkey don't do that in the end they're not really interested in what is happening to the syrian currents this this
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is sort of like that for a long time for example when he used to be in syria he used to be there for a long time before he was then exiled him being the very thick kurdish leader exactly the p.k. and he even said there is no kurdish problem in syria this is of course something this was of course the deal with the syrian regime he was allowed to be there and for that he had to that there is no syrian kurds problem and the syrian kurds political body the democratic union party which is known by its acronym as the id it actually also would reinforce that. saying it's not looking to break away it simply wants regional autonomy inside a federal syria is that true i'm not even i'm not even sure if. regional autonomy or something like this in syria i think they are just using syria
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for their interests in turkey if you look for example back to two thousand and fourteen you see that after they fought against the islamic state the so-called islamic state. they became really popular all over the world people said hey this is the only force that can fight the islamic state it's our only allies in syria so because they fought the state. suddenly you seem to be. the only ones who have women's rights for example the only ones who are really. the only ones who are really democrats so they really profited politically in the international community from this fight and this is what they're interested in they're not interested in syrian kurdistan in the end for them it's not important if there was a tone of your something like this they want to profit for their fight intro from what is happening in syria let's look closer at that role in that fight we have
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a short report on the role that the syrian kurdish fighters played in the fight against us. for months now kurdish fighters have been defending the syrian border town of called against possible attacks by islamic state forces. be in early twenty fifteen the kurds backed by western airstrikes managed to end an i.a.s. siege of the town. kurdish fighters and local militias finally liberated the iraqi town of sin jar in november twenty fifth during the occupation islamic state fighters massacred several thousand civilians. in october twenty seventeen a syrian based alliance led by kurdish fighters captured the town of raka the capital of the islamic state since twenty fourteen. the i
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asked caliph not has now collapsed but turkish forces have launched a campaign against kurdish fighters in northern syria have the courage been betrayed by the west. on. your opening statement said in essence you do think they've been betrayed or at least led on by the u.s. coalition would you say that the u.s. and its allies will fully turned a blind eye to the claims and interests of the kurds in their eagerness to work together with them against us or to be honest i think the deal was very clear from the beginning ironically. a kurdish friend recently told me that he doesn't understand why the p k k and the people like the like the anti imperialists kurds in this region a so critical of the united states and also so so critical of like international western interventionism but at the same time once the cia nuff said that they are
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they feel very flattered to cooperate with the with washington and i think the deal was very clear from the beginning of the. it was it provided and a unique opportunity by the way i don't agree with what it was that this is just a charade of the p.k. k. exploiting the situation in syria to strengthen their position in turkey i think this this this movement this project in the north east of syria. the autonomous lee governed area three continents that they control it really provided an opportunity and also it changed the reality and in the way also it it changed the ideology in a certain way there was an opportunity to somehow prove themselves in a non declared state non declared state and that is important let's not forget the idea of a national state is actually nothing that the piquet's in favor of when they talk about federalism on the other hand they don't mean federalism inside syria to have like an autonomous region in a federal syria i mean they mean they need federalism oaken federalism and they
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talk about all the kurds in the middle east the spread out in different in different neighboring countries nevertheless this this this opportunity they sought the opportunity and they prove themselves now if you say the emergence of another state or a non declared state let of could it autonomy is something useful or not is going to further destabilize the region i think in an environment where states collapse and fail every project of self administration and every project of let's say efficient up mistress that does one thing which provide security to its citizens or provide security of the people on the ground and somehow improving the conditions of living is already a big achievement and therefore i understand that for a moment the the us also not only for the lack of alternatives just let's leave out the terrorism debate here let's see onil into the kurdish areas by the americans but it was a strategic choice out of aleck of many alternatives and i totally understand this on the other hand i also understand that the turkish government is not at all happy
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with what's happening there but the situation in the vacuum it helped also to create so they should not wonder that this project much did it could have been. could one say that by arming and strengthening and training at the wife e.g. militia the u.s. essentially set up the kurds in northern syria for this offensive by turkey. well i mean when you look at history and you know go back a couple of decades and remember what happened the iraqi kurdistan right after the gulf war it was pretty much the same scenario because there are also kurds in iraq and the u.s. at the time armed and supported the iraqi kurds which had deeply alarmed the turkish state at the time and turkey was very upset again you know sort of talked about terrorism threats etc over time turkey's policies have changed now the turkish state at the moment has good relations with the barzani of vision who
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barzani is the leader of the iraqi kurds and that was opposing you know the kurdish autonomy in syria i think we need to from the first when we talk about turkey and turkey is policies in order to understand what's going on we need to sort of think remember history and put all of this in historical context and just remember that from its foundation from the foundation of the turkish republic one of the sort of red lines of the official ideology in turkey has been to ensure that the kurds everywhere including in turkey did not have autonomy and self rule in any way be it a state be it's. a sort of autonomy you know in turkey federalism called federalism what not the fight has always been there in some cases the turkish state has lost iraqi kurdistan is something cases well the fight is going on in turkey and now they're syria right so they want to make sure the state wants to make sure that they do not allow what has happened in iraq to kurdistan to happen also in syria
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but from the perspective of the kurds in turkey and i'm talking about the kurds in general we're told by millions of people this has this is yet another instance all of a nationalist policy of the turkish state which doesn't want to accept the kurdish identity as a distinct distinct identity and the kurds as people who are also entitled to enjoy their fundamental right. it's be you know in turkey syria and you know or iraq. our question there at the end of the report was whether the kurds have been betrayed what do you think they are expecting from the united states for example it is sending very very mixed signals so far we're told at least by turkey that the u.s. is now saying it is not going to continue to arm the y.p. jane what do you think people in northern syria are expecting and will they get it well first of all i think we can say that the y.p.
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ji has been betrayed by the united states but not the currents because this would say that everybody identifies with the y p g and this is definitely not the case in syrian credits and we shouldn't we shouldn't really forget that i mean i do not think that the y.p. g. is that popular a lot of people think indeed and that's quite clear i mean you said they proved themselves in syria i think that's a difficult phrase i mean what did they prove they did proof that they do not respect human rights they do not respect just it in syrian kurdistan if they do not respect it in turkey or any way if you look for example what they did to the kurdish opposition in syria in kurdistan all those parties belonging to the syrian national council for example they closed all their offices i mean those offices simply don't exist anymore there is no freedom of press. by the way to come to the middle east so yeah but it's important to say this i think you have to have a better pretending you have to control this situation much better in store in
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kurdistan than it's just elsewhere and just not indeed a lot of korra want not supporting the why p.g. tell you well our situation here is more difficult than i know why p.g. has killed more oppositional politicians then the assad regime ever did and i think we shouldn't we should forget this and not just because i don't i don't it's not belittling the story unsubstantiated and and i'm sorry if you say that then you probably reviewed. the knowledge of what the what the assad regime has done to the opposition over many decades we're talking about you talking with one of the regional context of the syrian kurds i totally agree that the the p y d that organization is not only a creation of the p.k. k. but it's also somehow an emulation and it's messed methods of the assad regime because that's where it was bred that's why it was grown that's why it sought refuge during the times when it was when it was president persecuted in turkey and the assad regime supported them but nevertheless if you look at the regional context and you know what's going on in the region then the performance of the wipe
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e.g. i'm not talking about human rights i'm talking about our notion of stability and western notion of stability they did in this very difficult difficult context they did prove themselves that they have these they showed that they can be efficient and so did the syrian democratic i'm going to let you know you know we like we have absolutely very little time left on the clock and i would like to talk a bit about where we're going from here and who might be x. able to exercise influence down hugo laugh if the u.s. were willing to use it would it have political leverage visa v the y p g or the p y d in order perhaps to get some kind of or enunciate of claims that are troubling turkey and thereby pacify the situation yeah. i think the u.s. had very little political leverage at the moment for and that's the result also of a choice i think what they can do now is excess the pressure they have on the wife e.g. to keep a low profile to withdrawal to two of the continents in the to give up
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a fee and basically to withdraw to to contents of the east and to somehow try to preserve and defend what they have and then pressure turkey to stay away from from further interference here but then we have to also reckon with the russians we have to put the russians into the equation because this this rift between the u.s. and turkey is a strategic goal in my view and also a strategic asset for the russians that's why the right. i'm not interested in any somehow. you know using the situation but they are interested in further escalation which relates to a policy of i think it's the wife of jean knows that this is somehow it can fall victim to this but it knew this from the very beginning all this conflict has been announced of the operations of turkey effin announced before so nobody can say he was taken by surprise i'm afraid we're out of time many thanks to all of you for being with us today and thanks to all of you out there for turning again see you soon.
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