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Turkey’s overtures to Assad all about crushing Syrian Kurds’ autonomy

Turkey’s security establishment remains immutably opposed to the consolidation of any form of Kurdish autonomy in Syria that would mirror Kurdish gains in neighboring Iraq.
Protesters raise yellow flags showing the face of Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) -- currently prison in Turkey, and the red-star flag of the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan (ERNK - Eniya Rizgariya Netewa Kurdistan), during a demonstration calling for his release and condemning recent Turkish strikes on Kurdish areas, in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in northeastern Syria on Dec. 6, 2022.

Turkey’s overtures to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with last week’s meeting in Moscow between the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers, continue to resonate. Unsurprisingly, one of the most realistic assessments came from the one group that understands Turkish thinking best: the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The armed organization has been fighting the Turkish state on numerous fronts for more than 38 years, 15 of which were centered in and around Syria. In an interview that aired Monday on the pro-PKK news channel Medya News, top PKK commander Bese Hozat noted that the shift in Turkey’s Syria policy was “not tactical.” To the contrary, it is being driven by Turkey’s desire to “extinguish the Rojava revolution, to extinguish the Autonomous Administration in North East Syria, to make it disappear,” Hozat declared. Rojava is the Kurdish name for Kurdish-majority northeast Syria where a US-supported and Kurdish-led administration with close links to the PKK has been governing for the past decade after Assad redeployed his forces there to fight Turkish-backed Sunni rebels.

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