Raqqa ‘annihilation’ reveals Kurdish contradiction

A new Amnesty International report accuses the US of “war crimes” in the bombardment of Raqqa, and the virtual “annihilation” of the city. The fact that the US-led bombardment was in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their campaign to take the city from ISIS has contributed to pitting Kurd against Arab and brought northern Syria closer to ethnic war. Ironically (if predictably), now that the Syrian Kurds have served their purpose in defeating ISIS, Washington is about to kick them overboard—just as Assad and Erdogan alike are preparing offensives against them.

The report, ‘War of Annihilation’: Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqqa – Syria, details four “emblematic cases” of civilian families who were brutally impacted by the relentless aerial bombardment. Between them, they lost 90 relatives and neighbors—39 from a single family—almost all of them killed by Coalition air-strikes.

These claims come amid further evidence of Trump’s acquiescence in selling the Kurds to Erdogan—and conniving in the clearly imminent threat to their autonomous zone, known as Rojava. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has announced that Kurdish fighters will have to give up their weapons when they retreat from the long-contested town of Manbij as part of a deal reached with the United States. (AP)

And the threat doesn’t just come from the Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdo?an—which has already de facto annexed the former Kuridish canton of Afrin. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, who had offered to help the Kurds in defending Afrin, is now openly menacing Rojava. And here again, the Kurds’ alliance with Washington serves them poorly, allowing Assad to conflate the anarchist-influenced Roajava Kurds with the US. In an interview with Kremlin propaganda organ RT, he said: “The only problem left in Syria is the SDF. We’re going to deal with it by two options: the first one we started now opening doors for negotiations, because the majority of them [SDF] are Syrians. Supposedly they like their country, they don’t like to be puppets to any foreigners. If not, we’re going to resort…to liberating those areas by force. It’s our land, it’s our right, and it’s our duty to liberate it, and the Americans should leave. Somehow they’re going to leave. They came to Iraq with no legal basis and look what happened to them. They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region any more.”

He did not fail to pay obeisance to his Russian patrons—and invoke the threat of superpower confrontation if the US doesn’t back off: “We were close to having direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces. Fortunately it has been avoided—not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership.” (Al Jazeera)

Whatever legitimate pressures brought the Rojava Kurds into an alliance with US imperialism, they must have known it would cost them politically. And this chicken may be rapidly coming home to roost.

Photo: SDF