The op east of the Euphrates and the struggle for power

ÖZLEM ALBAYRAK,  Friday 09:43, 14 December 2018

President Erdoğan in his statement during the Turkish Defense Summit at the Beştepe Presidential Complex on Wednesday declared that an operation east of the Euphrates River in Syria will start in a few days.

In his speech, which bore the traces of resent and also determination, he said, “The north of Syria is the south of Turkey. They are trying very hard to create a terror corridor there. We say that ‘they are terrorists,’ whereas our allies, especially the U.S., say that “they are not.” These are branches of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK); all the proof is there. Why you don’t cooperate with us but rather with them?”

This issue has been like this for a long time. There is an ongoing disagreement between the U.S. and Turkey about the fact that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) is PKK’s Syrian branch and therefore a terrorist organization. In fact, there is also a similar disagreement with Russia as well. However, neither Turkey nor Russia wants to express this reality in this conjuncture. Besides, while Russia has been the sponsor of many cruelties that has been going on in Syria by giving support to the Assad regime and by acting together with Iran, it nevertheless doesn’t really oppose Turkey’s operations in the region.

So, Russia is playing both sides. But the deep disagreement with the U.S. still continues. Just hours after Erdogan’s declaration Pentagon reacted.

Since the 18th century, states are defined as “the only entities that have the means to use legitimate violence.” The violence Turkey uses in this sense is legitimate, yet the operation against the YPG is getting so many reactions. Because the U.S.’s definition of legitimacy is different here. It tries to prevent Turkey’s right to pressure the YPG; however, any country in our position would also try to protect its borders in the same manner, so that’s why they can’t really oppose the operations.

Actually, in the beginning, having the “YPG” defined as a terrorist organization itself was a struggle for power. Because the struggle for power works through “definitions.” Carrying out an operation is another dimension of this. Turkey couldn’t persuade the U.S. to define the YPG as a terrorist organization, and this time it continues its struggle by launching an operation. It has to, otherwise it would mean it is giving up.

While I was thinking about this issue, Edward Said’s words about the International Court of Justice which punished Milosevic after the violence in Bosnia and Kosovo came to my mind. Said, in short, said that the court must also find Clinton, Blair, or Madeleine Albright guilty and if not it will lose its reputation. If we compare what Clinton has done in Iraq to Milosevic’s acts, Milosevic seems like an amateur.

Were these words of Edward Said naïve? Of course, they weren’t. Said’s evaluation, which sounds childish at first, was pointing out very clearly that most of the decisions of the International Court of Justice or any other International Court are not taken according to the crimes committed against human beings but according to the right of the persecutor. The law applied to Milosevic and Clinton, was in accordance with power. In fact, the criteria the court applied has been the same. Thus, since the beginning of the history, the powerful have the right to be persecutors, while the weak does not. It’s that simple.

What Said said actually explains Turkey’s struggle in defining the YPG as a terrorist organization in the international community and the operations it carried out one after the other.

While it is clear that the struggle Turkey is giving is based on its sovereignty rights which were acknowledged by the entire world centuries ago, this is also the reason why it is being covertly hindered by the U.S..

While one side is trying to eradicate a branch and an extension of a terrorist organization within its borders-- a terrorist organization which has claimed thousands of lives-- the other side doesn’t even define the group linked with that acknowledged terrorist organization as such, when this link has been proven by thousands of documents; and what is more is that it also tries to give territorial legitimacy to that terrorist organization from thousands of kilometers away. Yet, the world is still trying to figure out who is right in this issue.

The powerful make the rules. But the powerful also have their own flaws, weaknesses, and demerits. In this instance, the U.S.’s weakness is the actions it previously carried out in the Middle East. Thank God that rest of the world also has “doubts” about this that they don’t unconditionally support them this time. The fact that Europe is being neutral although it “condemns” Turkey whenever it launches an operation is strengthening Turkey’s hand.

But the most important factor for Turkey’s strength is the fact that it is right…

May God protect our soldiers…

#The op east of the Euphrates
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