European politicians begin to explicitly and loudly condemn Afrin operation

by The Region    


European politicians seem to be changing the tune of their critical support for Turkey's so-called Operation Olive Branch, launched in January in an effort to ouster the Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) from the enclave of Afrin in Northern Syria. The Kurdish YPG (Peoples' Protection Units), an armed wing of the PYD, has been the leading ally in the fight against IS. It is now at the forefront of resisting an incursion by the Turkish Armed Forces and its Free Syrian Army affiliates into Afrin.    

On the 22nd of January, Kurds in the diaspora were outraged by statements made by UK Secretary of State, Boris Johnson on the Turkish attacks on the Afrin enclave. "Watching developments in Afrin closely." he tweeted, "Turkey is right to want to keep its borders secure." 

And whereas French President Macron briefly mentioned the threat of Operation Olive Branch becoming "an invasion" in an interview conducted with Le Figaro newspaper in France, he later retracted his statement after criticisms from Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Speaking in Tunis, Macron expressed regret for his wording.

"I note that the reaction of the Turkish foreign minister probably means that the operation is nothing more than to secure the border and that Turkey does not intend to go further than the positions which it occupies today or to stay in the region in the long-term," he told a news conference.  
But this all changed when Francois Hollande, the former president of France, explicitly condemned Macron's public position in an interview with Le Monde.

"If I supported the Kurds as part of the coalition, it is not to leave them in the situation they are in," he told Le Monde. "It is not possible to celebrate the liberation of part of Syria and let entire populations die when we know the role they played in getting that result."

This even led Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's Foreign Minister, to tell parliamentarians in France that "while concerns over border security are legitimate... at the same time ... It must be said that it absolutely does not justify the deep incursion of Turkish troops in the Afrin zone,"

In Britain, the conservative government also expressed in full terms its opposition to the Afrin operation. Speaking at the house of commons, Alistair Burt, Minister of State for International Development, expressed the government's opposition to the Afrin offensive in Parliament on Tuesday.

The statement of opposition came in response to statements made by David Lammy, an MP for Tottenham.

"Isn't it the case that Mr. Erdogan is using the cloak of respectability, Nato, to hide an alliance with Al-Qaeda on the ground and to engage in this barbarous murder and slaughter of innocent men, women, and children? Shouldn't the British Government be absolutely clear that he must end this offensive?" David Lammy said.

 "And secondly has the time not coming to stop selling arms to this man who is behaving like a despot." 

In response to the difficult questions, Alistair Burt expressed the official view of the Government. 

"Turkey is a Nato partner who relies on its partners for help and security. But within recognising their territorial concerns and their concerns about their insecurity, we do indeed call for an end to the operations" responded, Alistair Burt.   

In Germany, ANF News reports that the Afrin Platform successfully met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier after confronting him at a school with a UNESCO delegation. He met with the Duisburg Platform for Afrin and promised to look at a submitted file and forward it to all related institutions. 

These statements have come in the wake of the Turkish Armed Forces encircling the densely populated city of Afrin, and after demonstrations across Europe have demanded an end to the operation. Protesters in Manchester, London, and Dusseldorf disrupted traffic, railways and airports over the past few days. Prior to the parliamentary meeting in Afrin, protesters gathered outside parliament for over 24 hours.