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US backed Ceasefire between Turkey and Kurds

US backed Ceasefire between Turkey and Kurds

Tag: GS 2||International Relations||India and Rest of the World ||West Asia

Why in news?

  • Recently U.S President Donald Trump announced that U.S is withdrawing it’s troops from the Northern Syria which is controlled by the Kurdish forces.
  • Using this opportunity, Turkey has launched attacks on the northern borders of Syria.

Background

  • In 2011 an uprising against the Bashar Al Assad regime has started in Syria inspired by the “Arab Spring”. Assad led Syrian government heavily suppressed the protests, this lead to the Intervention from the International community.
  • S backed the defected sect of the Syrian army called Free Syrian Army. Russia backed the Assad government. What was started as a pro democratic movement has now turned into a complex Syrian Civil war.
  • A Kurdish force called Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) was founded in 2015, This group is fighting for self rule in North East Syria.
  • Kurdish People Protection Group (YGP) makes majority parts of SDF. Turkey terms YGP as terrorist organization as it is linked to the Kurdish separatist group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), inside Turkey.
  • SDF helped U.S troops to defeat ISIS and to capture Raqqa a city which was the stronghold of the ISIS.

Turkey’s Operations

  • Turkey has two goals in the northern Syria
  1. To drive the Kurdish YPG militia away from it’s border.
  2. To create a “Safe Zone” along borders inside Syria for resettlement of the 2 million Syrian refugees.
  • Turkey terms this as “Operation Peace Spring”.
  • Turkey has started bombarding the region. U.S warned Turkey and threatened with sanctions.

The Deal

  • To reduce the tensions in the region U.S has initiated the negotiations between Turkey and the Kurds
  • After the negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, the U.S. and Turkey agreed to a five-day cease-fire in the Turks’ attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
  • To end the bloodshed caused by Turkey’s invasion of Syria. Operation Peace Spring will be halted for 120 hours.
  • According to the Peace talks –
  • Turkey Will halt ongoing military operations inside Syrian border. After the Kurdish forces are cleared from the safe zone, Turkey has committed to a permanent cease-fire but is under no obligation to withdraw its troops.
  • Kurds will have to withdraw to roughly 32 km away from the Turkish border. YPG will turn over its heavy weaponry and dismantle its fortifications.
  • S will not put further sanctions on Turkey and will remove the existing sanctions if permanent ceasefire goes into effect.

Criticisms

  • Kurdish forces were not party to the agreement, and it was not clear whether they would comply.
  • Before the talks, the Kurds indicated they would object to any agreement along the lines of what was announced by Pence.
  • But Pence maintained that the U.S. had obtained “repeated assurances from them that they’ll be moving out.”
  • The SDF had been guarding the about 12,000 ISIS prisoners and approximately 70,000 displaced ISIS women and children at al-Hol camp. Prisoners may escape from detention facilities.
  • S has betrayed Kurds by pulling it’s troops out and this mediation which is clearly in favor of Turkey has came as a fresh blow to the Kurds.

Additional Info

About Kurds

  • The Kurds are one of the indigenous peoples of the Mesopotamian plains and the highlands in south-eastern Turkey, north-eastern Syria, northern Iraq, north-western Iran and south-western Armenia.
  • Majority of the Kurds are Sunni Muslims and some follow other sects also
  • They don’t have a separate nation state for which they are fighting since the century
  • They are demanding a separate nation for their community called “Kurdistan”