In his regular column in the Guardian, British activist Owen Jones called on his government to stop arming Turkey, indirectly fueling its fight against northern Syria’s Kurds.
“Since Turkey launched a military offensive with the Orwellian codename Operation Olive Branch, around 230 civilians have died.” The Turkish government launched this offensive on the city of Afrin in January of this year, where the military has been fighting the Kurds of northern Syria.
Jones argues that the Democratic Federation of North Syria, known as Rojava, is democratic and progressive on gender. As for Turkey, Jones highlights the government’s recent censorship and history of links with jihadists.
“There are democratic assemblies ranging from the neighbourhood level to cantons. Quotas are enforced to ensure representation for women, as well as for ethnic minorities. Democratic involvement is deemed mandatory… Women-only meetings drew up a new social contract for Rojava: banning marriage under a certain age, proscribing polygamy, making domestic violence a specific offence.”
“Consider our noble friend and ally Turkey, on the other hand. Turkey’s regime locks up more journalists than any other government on Earth. Since an abortive coup in 2016, tens of thousands of Turks have been detained or sacked on political grounds. It is a regime with a history of sordid links with jihadist extremists. It once backed the al-Nusra Front, which is al-Qaida by another name; and backs Ahrar al-Sham, an extreme jihadist group. Isis was allowed to expand because, for many years, Turkey allowed its murderous zealots to cross its porous border into Syria.”
Jones criticized both the Conservative-led British government and the British left for their failure to take action against Turkey. He called on Britain to end arms sales to the Turkish military and to exert diplomatic pressure on the Turkish government.
“In January 2017, Theresa May signed a deal worth £100m to develop Turkish fighter jets. This is utterly scandalous… There is a challenge to the left, too. We rightly condemn the injustice inflicted on the Palestinian people as they languish under the occupation of a Western-backed state. Where is the equal outrage over the assault against democratic socialist Rojava? Our own government – complicit in this unforgivable bloodshed – must be pressured to cease arms sales to Turkey and to exert diplomatic pressure.”