Ilham Ehmed, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council / ANF
Lately, Syria has started heading towards uncertainty. This uncertainty is widening the divide between the US and Russia. The relationship and the talks between the two powers on Syria have ended since.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Baath regime started to advance in Aleppo and Homs. Turkey’s invasion of Jarablus also continues to expand.
Syrian Democratic Council (MSD) Co-chair Ilham Ehmed spoke to ANF on the current situation, recent developments, the efforts of Northern Syria and Rojava Federation and the dangers that await Rojava and Northern Syria. Ehmed said the conflict between Russia and the US on the ground goes against the discourse. Ehmed stated that Erdoğan’s and Turkey’s actual goal is the Aleppo-Mosul line and that Rojava’s Afrîn Canton is facing a great danger. Ehmed pointed out that there may be an attack on Afrîn any time now, and called for awareness.
What does the current situation in Syria show? Where are the developments in Syria headed?
The US is on its way to a presidential election. A ceasefire was declared recently when Russia and the US agreed. In truth, one can’t say there was a ceasefire, but it also wouldn’t be right to say that nothing happened. One can say, what was it that started and ended? Why wasn’t there anything resembling a ceasefire?
The forces clashing on the field implemented it to some extent. But the ceasefire was violated due to the situation of the externally intervening powers in some locations.
But in the current situation, Russia launched a new maneuver on Aleppo after the ceasefire was broken. Russia, the Regime and Iran launched this maneuver together. Aleppo is now at a certain level. The regime forces have advanced, they want to take full control.
Turkey wants to advance from the Bab side up to Aleppo. It was impossible for Turkey to invade Jarablus and Rai without receiving the green light from the international powers. Russia, the Regime and Iran gave Turkey the green light on this. This invasion was carried out with the support of the coalition forces, and it continues.
Turkey is using this to get to Aleppo. Turkey is using this so the war in Aleppo will not end. Turkey has built this strategy over the invasion of Bab. Turkey’s true goal is all of Aleppo. And there is this: When they can’t reach their goal, they resort to the policy to keep the war going and to prevent stabilization. Turkey wants to invade and control all of Northern Syria along with Aleppo. Turkey has this goal. They want to tear down the system developed in Rojava. With this, they actually want to control the whole of Syria.
Turkey’s invasion of Northern Syria continues. What are they aiming for with this invasion?
Russia, Iran and the Regime know of Turkey's goal. It is not clear whether they will accept it, but it is impossible for them to. The coalition forces had a plan and a project to fight ISIS. They approved Turkey’s invasion for this reason. But Turkey now supposedly fights ISIS, while actually continuing their invasion. Turkey’s plan is to attack the Kurdish regions after clearing ISIS off their current positions. In that case, the coalition forces will be in danger as well. The international forces and the coalition forces are aware of this.
There is a reflection that Russia and the US are headed towards war, the conflict between them is getting deeper. Some circles assess that we are on the brink of a world war. On the field, we are of the opinion that this is not the case. There is an attempt to make it look like Russia is the only party that wants the Regime to control Aleppo. The US staying silent on this matter and their relationship being tested until the point of rupture in this period has given more ground to this attempt. It opened the way for the Regime to control Aleppo. This development changes with which power and party wants what.
Erdoğan said the Sevres and Lausanne treaties took from them what they already had. He also has issues with the treaty of Sykes-Picot. He doesn’t accept any of these treaties. Erdoğan wishes to return to the period before these treaties. More to the point, he wishes for the position and status before these treaties. Erdoğan’s aims in Syria go further than declaring a Turkmen state. Yes, he wants to change the demographics of the region and Turkmenify it. Actually, most of those he calls “Turkmens” have nothing to do with Turkmens. They don’t represent Turkmens. They are a group that he has formed arbitrarily. There are respectable Turkmens who are part of our system. They have talked about this matter in this sense. They say Erdoğan wants to create his own Turkmen and they are disturbed that he is speaking on behalf of the Turkmens.
Erdoğan’s goal is not confined to Syria either. He wants the whole region between Aleppo and Mosul, and Mosul itself. He is after this grand and imaginary goal. This is why they say everyday in statements that they will take part in the Mosul operation, even though they are not wanted. They can be seen making statements every day like “We are ready to join in for the liberation of Mosul”, “We are ready to join for Raqqa if the Kurds aren’t part of it”. They make statements saying the Kurds shouldn’t be a part of these operations. In truth, such statements from Erdoğan and AKP officials give away the extent of their goals.
The international powers aren’t entirely positive with turning a blind eye to Turkey invading Syria. There are reaction and concerns over this matter. If it was seen as a positive thing, Turkey would be in Aleppo by now. Turkey has been allowed to advance in Syrian territory in a controlled manner. They are closely monitored in every step they take. The massacres committed, the looting and other such undesirable actions may put Turkey on trial in the future. But it is not clear up to where and towards where Turkey’s controlled advance will continue. And therein lies the danger. Turkey takes advantage of this situation by abusing a gap before the US presidential elections.
How does Afrîn factor into Turkey’s plan?
The Turkish state has plans to attack Afrîn. They are most probably considering an attack. We have received information that a meeting was held in Reyhanlı for an attack on Afrîn recently. So, Afrîn is in danger. There are more than a million people living in Afrîn. All these people are in danger. Afrîn should raise itself out of this situation. They need to get out of this dangerous situation. Afrîn can do that by opening the roads and widening its surroundings.
Do you think these goals and Turkey's aims and their relationship to ISIS won’t face any sanctions?
Two years ago, I said Turkey would be added to the list of terror-supporting countries. The data for this is increasingly solidifying. Several concrete documents have emerged that show Turkey has founded ISIS, let alone supporting it. And this is enough evidence for a trial. A decision passed in the US recently, despite Turkey’s protests. That was the decision to put such countries on trial. Then people started filing lawsuits against Saudi Arabia. But the international powers have not decided to start this trial process for Turkey just yet. Or, if they have, they haven’t declared it yet. There is a good chance Turkey will come after Saudi Arabia. I think Turkey’s situation will be discussed after the US presidential election.
The 2nd part of this interview will be published tomorrow.
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