Commentaries #21

Kurdistan under new qttacks
by Terry Saltsmann and Prof. Michael Gunter 

The Turkish November 19, 2022, attack on Rojava dubbed Operation Claw-Sword was reputedly launched in retaliation for the earlier November 13 bomb attack on Istanbul’s sleek shopping district known as Istiklal Street that killed six people and wounded at least 80 more. Although it made no sense for the Kurds to attack Istanbul and thus invite new Turkish wrath, Turkey quickly blamed the PKK and its kin Syrian Democratic Forces/Democratic Union Party/Peoples’ Defense Units (SDF/PYD/YPG) in Rojava for the atrocity despite their quick denial. On November 22, Turkey escalated these air strikes by hitting an SDF/PYD/YPG military base adjacent to the main US military base in northeastern Syria housing some of the approximately 900 remaining few but strategically important troops the United States still maintains in Syria. No U.S. casualties were reported.

However, a Pentagon spokesman declared that the Turkish airstrike had “directly threatened” U.S. troops stationed in the area. Thus, there is the danger of disastrous miscalculations that could lead to Turkish clashes with the United States. Although there is no credible evidence about who perpetrated the original bombing in Istanbul, one might speculate that some rogue Turkish intelligence element carried out a false flag operation to win support for Erdogan’s upcoming reelection scheduled for June 18, 2023. The PKK and SDF/PYD/YPG have accused Turkey of having used such attacks as a pretext for invasions in the past. General Mazloum Abdi (aka Mazlum Kobane), the SDF commander, claimed the reputed bomber, Ahlam Al-Bashir, was related to ISIS jihadists via her brothers and past husbands, some of whom were killed in battles against Kurdish forces. Also possible is a reputed rogue PKK element, such as the so-called Kurdistan Falcons/Hawks blamed in the past for similar violent atrocities. A jihadist group might also be responsible. Meanwhile, the midterm elections in the United States paradoxically both strengthened and weakened U.S. president Joseph Biden’s hand in all this.

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