David L. Phillips
Director, Program on Peace-building and Rights
Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights
21 January 2018
Turkey is destroying Afrin, a Kurdish city in Northern Syria. President Tayyip Erdogan claims Turkey is acting in self-defense and in accordance with international law. Neither is the case.
Turkey’s attack was unprovoked and unauthorized. The People’s Protection Units (YPG), Syrian Kurdish fighters, never attacked Turkey and posed no risk. Turkey acted unilaterally and without authorization from the UN Security Council under Chapter 7.
The YPG is America’s best ally in Syria. It was critical to liberating Raqqa, the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate. US Special Forces and the YPG fought side-by-side. Thousands of YPG members died.
The US should give Turkey 24 hours to stand down. If Turkey continues its naked aggression against Afrin, the US should shoot down Turkish war planes and destroy Turkish artillery bombarding Afrin and killing civilians.
Turkey is no longer a reliable ally. Under Erdogan’s dictatorship, Turkey has become a strategic adversary.