PKK’s Karayılan: The Turkish state bluffs on Manbij and Raqqa

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Remarking that the Turkish state would not attack Manbij without an approval of the US and Russia, Karayılan said Erdoğan pursued a bluff politics on Northern Syria due to his enmity towards the Kurds, and he would fail.

 Tuesday, February 28, 2017 10:45 AM

PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) Executive Council member Murat Karayılan spoke to ANF regarding the recent developments in Northern Syria and Rojava.

Calling attention to the Turkish state’s agreement with the US, Russia and ISIS for the invasion of the Shehba region, Karayılan remarked that the Turkish state would not attack Manbij without the approval of the US and Russia. He said Erdoğan pursued a bluff politics on Northern Syria due to his enmity towards the Kurds, and he would fail.

Karayılan stressed that ISIS left al-Bab to the Turkish army on the basis of an agreement, and that there was no ‘success’ in question.

The AKP officials state on daily basis they they have taken al-Bab but repeated reports of casualties are coming through from al-Bab. What is going on in al-Bab?

The Turkish army has failed in al-Bab. They have made an endeavour for 7 months, and they are now claiming to have taken the city. Turkish forces are yet to enter the entire city but they may do that soon.


Because there is an agreement in question.

What kind of agreements?

A team by the Turkish army alongside some gang groups they call FSA entering al-Bab after 7 months is not a military achievement but a result of political-diplomatic talks. We know that the Turkish state firstly received a permission from the US to advance up to 20 kilometers into Syria, and then up to 25 kilometers from Russia. It came out that Turkey also made a deal with ISIS in order to advance up to Exterîn -which equals to 35-40 km. In other words, the Turkish army entered Jarablus, Dabiq and Rai on the basis of these agreements.


The US-led International Coalition forces stopped their assistance to the Turkish state once it went beyond 20 kilometers and thus did not stick to the deal.

However, the Turkish state made a move and another deal with Russia over Aleppo. In the scope of this agreement in a ‘give-and-take’ manner, Turkey got permission from Russia to advance up to al-Bab on condition of giving Aleppo and taking al-Bab in return.

This time, when they advanced up to Exterîn, they got caught into the deal they had made with ISIS. Turkey had convinced ISIS to a certain extent with arguments like ‘We have to drive you away from our border, i.e. Jarablus for you will confront YPG anyway even if we don’t come’. However, when Turkey later insisted on entering al-Bab, ISIS did not accept this, which resulted in a confrontation between the two sides for the first time.


This confrontation lasted for some two months, during which Turkey couldn’t take a single house in al-Bab, let alone a neighborhood. Turkey could hardly enter Jabal Aqil, which they bitterly repented, and thus left the area and retreated. On seeing their lack of slightest performance to advance against the ISIS resistance, Turkey made another agreement with ISIS. This means, ISIS has left al-Bab with an agreement and most probably got some other things in return. The 2-3 trucks of ammunition covered by the media is also involved in this scope. In short, MIT (Turkish intelligence) and ISIS engage in a dealing and ISIS left al-Bab with its own consent as result of a deal made in this regard. Still, ISIS must have left some traps behind them, with which the Turkish army is dealing at the moment.

In the current situation, there is no force in al-Bab. Turkish forces cannot enter some areas for fear of traps. There is no force resisting them there as ISIS has already retreated from the city. Two weeks ago, the Turkish media covered reports saying “ISIS retreats from al-Bab” and this last agreement was made during that process. ISIS put this deal into practice belatedly.


To put it simply, the main reason in the Turkish army entering al-Bab alongside these gang groups is this series of deals. Turkey is making a deal with one side, making concessions to it, and makes another deal with another side, again making concessions. In other words, Turkey has opened a space for itself in return for its concessions to each of these sides, and thus it has come up to al-Bab. All Turkey aims is to create an obstacle to the Kurds, and to build a barrier to the unification of the two cantons. Turkey calls this a success but there is no success in question. Beyond the unification of the two cantons, Kurds now seek to establish a federation in Northern Syria. In other words, Kurds aim a struggle projecting a federation in entire Northern Syria territory with the Arab people and political powers, not in an area limited with the three cantons alone. If this struggle succeeds, all the cantons will get unified anyway.

In short, the Turkish state is after narrow plans. In this way, it is purportedly planning to obviate the Rojava Revolution but this is not possible for this efforts is a synonym of rowing against the tide and it is clear that they will not manage to do so.

AKP often talks of launching an operation on Manbij or Raqqa. Meanwhile, Manbij Military Council made a statement against that and they said they will resist in every way if such a thing were to happen. On the other hand, SDF is already rapidly advancing toward Raqqa and it is apparent that the Turkish state going there is not really necessary. Under such circumstances, what are the reasons for the Turkish state to use such a narrative?


None of these are things the Turkish state can do on its own without alliances with other forces. The Turkish state can’t enter Manbij by its own strength. Those who took the city won’t let them! They are much more belligerent than ISIS. But the Turkish state wants to impose itself on the US, to force the new US administration to choose, “either me or YPG”. They insist like a spoiled child to force the US into a choice. If the US approves, they will expand to Manbij and Raqqa! How will the US approve? The people who took that city, took it with blood. But they are concerned with marketing Turkey in the international arena to gain position against Kurds. The AKP-MHP administration wants to achieve results through this narrow, chauvinist, racist and hostile policy.

This is somewhat connected to the developments in the international arena. If they go into such an inclination alone, they will most certainly fail. In any case, it is not possible for them to do it on their own. They are there on permission, it’s not possible for them to step out of bounds. All they care about is forcing the new administration of the US to open up space for them, to give them a new reference and o achieve an opening through this. Even though it has been said many times that this can’t be done, they are once more imposing themselves. The Raqqa operation has already been underway for 2 months, by the SDF. These forces are close to surrounding Raqqa. So, the Raqqa operation hasn’t not launched yet, it is a process that has begun and continues right now. Still, the Turkish state speaks of possibly entering Raqqa with the US.


What is the Turkish state’s purpose in using such a narrative?

Actually there are three reasons behind the Turkish state speaking of Raqqa and Manbij so much: First, it’s geared towards domestic politics, they mean to say, “we are very strong, we can be everywhere, but we had to be restricted to al-Bab because the US and the international forces hindered us.” But they don’t have the strength to advance, even if the US tells them “Alright, go ahead” right now. How will a force that has failed to take just one house in al-Bab go that far in and take Raqqa! The Turkish state’s discourse is just a bluff, they are bringing this up as necessitated by domestic politics.

Second, they are trying to create a basis for staying in al-Bab permanently by constantly bringing up these desires. As far as it’s known, according to their agreement with Russia, they are supposed to turn al-Bab over to regime forces after they take it. But the Turkish state won’t do that. They won’t keep their promise to Russia. That is why they now want to lean on the US, and through that, they want to become permanent in al-Bab. Their purpose is to stay in al-Bab, in this sense it is certain that they won’t adhere to the agreement they made with the regime and Russia. They are thinking, “We can swoop down on Manbij in June with permission from the US”, but many plans have been foiled in the past.

The third reason behind Turkey imposing these demands and policies, even though they know neither Russia nor the US will accept them, is to inculpate the US and seek more support against us, the PKK. Erdoğan and his group think they are so smart, they think with these tactical tricks, they will make themselves permanent in al-Bab, take Manbij if they can, and get a good deal of support against the PKK. Their talk of Raqqa is most certainly a bluff and an outright lie. They don’t have such strength. They are imposing that to pursue these three goals. To achieve these goals, they can impose themselves in several ways. For example, they might attack Manbij or Afrin.

Apparently, they already carry out attacks on the Rojava border constantly.

Yes. Through such attacks, they are making the YPG keep a portion of their forces on the border for security, in an attempt to weaken the SDF’s Raqqa operation.

And how is the US and other international forces’ attitude towards this? Do you think it’s enough?

Until now, the US and other international forces have turned a blind eye on Turkey. For example, neither the US or Russia, or other European countries, took a strong stance against the Turkish state constantly violating the Rojava border and murdering many Kurds and Arabs in Rojava. But these attacks of Erdoğan on the border are meant as a support to ISIS and they are weakening the Raqqa operation. It is interesting that nobody speaks out.


Of course history will show that these people can’t achieve results through such anti-Kurdish politics. Because the Kurds have been wronged greatly in the past. Now, in the current struggle in the Middle East, the Kurds are an actor and developments in all parts affect each other. For this reason, the nationalization feeling is developing further in Kurds. It is not possible now to stop this development process. You can’t cover the sun with mud, and you can’t stop the Kurds’ liberation. AKP can’t achieve that through their fascist policies of oppression and attacks. In Rojava, Bakur, Bashûr or Rojhilat, oppression won’t achieve anything anymore. Because the Kurds are more conscious, and they are armed and powerful, they have a policy and a strategy, they have a leader, and a goal for freedom. The enlightenment and consciousness developed by Leader Apo in Kurdistan today has reached a certain level. It is impossible to achieve results through ignoring that.

First part of the interview with Karayılan:

Category: International

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