Devastating Fires: Turkey aids ISIS in Terrorizing Kurdistan
For the past few weeks a number of suspicious fires have erupted across Rojava, with the latest one being in Serekaniye. Yesterday a massive fire raged on in the northern city of Derik. Many Kurdish and Arab farmers have been left devastated with entire crops and fields destroyed.
For a region where the connection with the land remains deeply sacred and personal, these fires have added to an ongoing sense of trauma, collective pain and suffering. More than that, the sacred connection to the land is a symbol of ethno-religious co-existence, communal harmony, identity and safety during a troubling and violent chapter in Syria. Heartbreaking images have emerged of entire villages, Arabs and Kurds, working tirelessly to stop the flames.
Similar fires have been lit in Basur (Northern Iraq), with acres burning in the contested city of Kirkuk. One person was killed in the fires, with ISIS claiming responsibility shortly after.
While some of the fires have been claimed by ISIS, there is video evidence now of soldiers on the Turkish side of the border wall lighting fires on the Rojava side. The latest fire alone burned 25 acres.
The deliberate lighting of these fires has a devastating impact as Turkey continues to impose a 4 years long humanitarian embargo which means nothing gets across the border into Rojava, including urgent medicine like vaccines, antibiotics, baby formula etc.
The people of Rojava have survived this embargo by relying on the agricultural rich land to produce essentials like wheat which not only feeds the Northern region but also the rest of Syria. Before the start of the war, Rojava supplied up to 70% of the agricultural output of the entire country.
Even during the devastating period of the Syrian war wheat and basic agriculture from the north kept the struggling people afloat.
With these latest deliberate fires, according to ANF hundreds of acres of life saving fields have been burnt already. This means that a difficult year of food and economic struggles are ahead for the long suffering people in the Northern regions of Syria.
Meanwhile Turkey continues daily bombings against the villages of Kurdistan in Basur (South Kurdistan, northern Iraq). With the ongoing illegal occupation of Afrin, hundreds of acres of olive trees and orchards have been burnt and destroyed in the Afrin region alone.
At the same time as the embargo, these latest fires, the threat of destruction of historical sites like Hasankeyf, Turkey continues to terrorize the Kurdish dominated regions. It is essential to note that similar to the policies of ISIS, a terrorist organization which Turkey has proven links to, the deliberate destruction of agriculture, land and infrastructure is a common practices used by the Turkish regime. Just across the border, in occupied northern Kurdistan, the building of the dam on Hasankeyf, for instance, would reduce water flow to Iraq by 80% and to Syria by 40%, with the implications for the Kurdish regions clear.
Clearly, Turkey maintains a violent approach of cultural genocide towards the Kurdish people, showing no interest in democratic processes or dialogue. Its long term approach is one of devastation, marginalization and weakening and subjugating the Kurdish regions economically and politically, as well as intra- Kurdish relations by fostering conflict between the Basur and Rojava.
The crimes that Turkey continues to commit against minorities in Turkey as well as the Kurds in Rojava, Bakur and Basur is tantamount to ethnic cleansing. Yet, international silence continues as the Kurds and those who share the land with them suffer.