THE Turkish invasion of Syria is not only destabilising the Middle East but poses new problems for the governments of many European Union states and for the EU itself.
The immediate consequence of lifting the temporary shield which the presence of this US expeditionary force gave to the Kurdish formations who exercise a measure of control in this oil-rich area is a human disaster.
Whether Donald Trump reached a prior agreement with Turkey’s premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan or whether it is a less considered consequence of his confused mind is hardly the point. The moment his words were uttered, a Turkish invasion was under way.
The human consequences will be disastrous for the people who live there. Their homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces will be bombed, Turkish troops will occupy their territory and with them will come the many militias, composed in the main of Turkish state-sanctioned jihadists that have long acted as Turkey’s proxies in the area when they were not in the terror business on their own account.
The painfully slow and exacting process of national reconciliation undertaken by Syrian civil society in many confessional identities — and fostered by the Syrian government — will be hindered and the work of the Syrian Constitutional Commission itself compromised.
This will be another body blow to the sovereignty of the Syrian state and to the prospects of peace and security in the region as a whole.
As a reordering of the global balance of forces is under way and the long post-war period in which Britain’s role in Europe — in part as the guarantor that US interests in Europe are not threatened — is now in doubt, European entanglement with the projection of imperial power in the Middle East is now more clearly seen as a double-edged sword.
Endless wars have created a refugee problem of unprecedented dimensions. Recollect that the toxic twins — David Cameron and Hilary Benn — would have had the Royal Air Force anticipate the anniversary of D-Day by bombing Syria but for the decisive combination of the Stop the War Coalition and Labour’s then leader Ed Miliband.
Britain could easily be even more entangled in this minefield than it is.
This welcome step in detaching Britain from further imperial involvement in the unending Middle East wars was not enough to stem the flow of refugees and migrant workers seeking security and work.
There are millions of these desperate people and it is only the Turkish “security wall” — paid for with blood money from the EU’s coffers — that stands between them and entry into Europe.
Erdogan’s threat to open the gates is but one weapon in his arsenal of measures to prop up his precarious regime and, moreover, one which could well present him with another set of problems. His risky balancing act between Russia and the West may not be a sufficient remedy.
The US strategic aims in the region include detaching Erdogan from his engagement with Russia and the extent to which this is consistent with what else Trump does remains unclear.
Various Kurdish formations in Iraq, Iran and Syria have, at different times, depended on both US air cover and Israeli weapons and training and this dependence on unreliable imperialist allies has always been a strategic weakness for the different Kurdish national contingents.
One revealing aspect of the affair is the fact that Israel was not, it seems, either consulted or aware of the US withdrawal and this is causing alarm on both sides of the Atlantic.
Every day makes it clearer that the principal source of danger in the region is imperialism.
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