Led by French Communist Party (PCF) Senator Laurence Cohen, 102 French members of parliament denounced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “policy of war” against Syrian Kurds, in a statement published on Le Journal du Dimanche on Saturday.
Erdoğan is taking advantage of the global attention being on the Ukraine conflict to intensify Turkey’s attacks on northern Syria, the deputies said.
“Erdoğan, in the shadow of global emotion, plans to launch yet another bloodthirsty offensive against Kurds in northern Syria,” they said.
Turkey’s 2019 Operation Peace Spring into northeast Syria “cost countless civilian casualties, destruction and acts of barbarism, aimed at destabilising the Kurdish social and political fabric”, the deputies said. “In the face of abuses committed by the Turkish army, western countries must no longer look the other way.”
The deputies believe Erdoğan is using NATO’s preoccupation in Ukraine to push for “a blank check”, and called on the West to guarantee protection for Kurdish activists and organisations based in Europe.
One of Erdoğan’s conditions to stop blocking Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine has been a stricter crackdown on terrorism, which included the repatriation of political refugees and asylum seekers in the two Nordic countries. Erdoğan also demands that Stockholm and Helsinki ban the People’s Protection Units (YPG) alongside the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK, an armed group fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for 40 years, is already included in the terrorist organisations lists of Turkey, the United States and the European Union, and while Turkey maintains the YPG is affiliated with the PKK, the majority-Kurdish Syrian group has been a key ally for the United States and the main boots on the ground in the international campaign against ISIS.
Turkey wishes to establish an uninterrupted corridor free from Kurdish forces along its southern border, and top officials have been declaring intentions for a new operation.
The French deputies called on France to urge the United Nations Security Council to “declare a no-fly zone in northern Syria, and place Syrian Kurds into international protection”, adding that the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) should be recognised internationally.