The funeral of Kurdish politician, Hevrin Khalaf, who was dragged by from her car and executed by Turkish forces. Photo: Getty Images.

How Terrible Does Turkey Have to Get?

by Burak Bekdil
October 14, 2019

* So where is this "economic devastation" against Turkey? Or does that make two promises that the U.S. has not kept?

* Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been threatening to flood Europe with more refugees. "We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way," he promised on October 10.

* Meanwhile, obscenely, Erdoğan has been invited to the White House for November 13.

* The real crime was for the US to betray the Kurds -- savory or not -- by making promises it did not keep... and leaving the world to wonder which Middle East ally the US will double-cross next. Take a guess?

Turkey's military offensive into the overwhelmingly Kurdish northeastern Syria is sending messages on many wavelengths. One consequence is beyond dispute: Turkey is adding further chaos, bloodshed and tears to a region already in turmoil. The U.S. had apparently "assur[ed] Kurdish protection from Turkey." Trump spoke of "economic devastion" if Kurdish forces were attacked. "As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)," Trump tweeted on October 7. [Microsoft may thoughtfully have censored this tweet for you. Ed.]

So where is this "economic devastation" against Turkey? Or does that make two promises that the U.S. has not kept?

In theory, the Turkish incursion will build a safe zone that is 30 kilometers (20 miles) deep and stretches more than 480 kilometers (300 miles) toward Syria's Iraqi border -– which just so happens to be the very place where many of the Kurds in Syria live. From there, the Turkish army will push Kurdish militants south and ward off an "existential threat" to Turkey. Once cleared of the YPG forces, the main Kurdish group (the Syrian offspring of the insurgent umbrella organization PKK) Turkey says it will build homes, hospitals schools and rehabilitation centers for the two million Syrian refugees it hosts.

This happy-ending scenario may not materialize so easily.

As in earlier cross-border clashes with the Turkish military, the Kurds have vowed to fight back despite allegedly heavy losses. On Oct. 13, the fifth day of the Operation Peace Spring, the Turkish Defense Ministry said its forces "neutralized" 525 Kurdish fighters. Kurdish shelling in over 300 rounds killed 18 civilians on the Turkish side of the border, including a nine-month old Syrian baby. More than 100 civilians were injured in Turkish towns and villages. One Kurdish, politician, Hevrin Khalaf, and nine other civilians were reportedly dragged from their cars and "executed."
"Everything that has ever happened to us is there to make us stronger."
-John Trudell