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Monday, 26 February 2024
Afrin: Demographic change and ethnic cleansing
Zara saleh

When Turkish President Erdogan in 2018 launched a military operation with the so-called Syrian National Army in the Kurdish region of Afrin, he said at that time: “We will return Afrin to its rightful owners.” In contrast to the Turkish president's speech, the occupation of Afrin was a political deal between Turkey and Russia in order to occupy the Kurdish areas.

Furthermore, more than half of Afrin's residents were exiled from their homelands, and instead, Arab and Turkmen from different areas were settled there following Erdogan's plan of demographic change.

In purpose to change the population balance in Kurdish areas which predominantly was with more than 95% Kurdish majority, Erdogan has orchestrated a systematic demographic shift by settling non-Kurdish people in Afrin northwest Syria as a project of ethnic cleansing as well. Erdogan's occupation strategy in the Kurdish areas such as Afrin, Serekaniye, and Till Abyad was due to its 'Phobia' that the Syrian Kurds will use the Syrian conflict to fulfil their ambitions to establish a Kurdish state or autonomous in the south border of Turkey. As a result, the percentage of the Kurdish population in Afrin has decreased dramatically due to Turkey's policy of demographic change comparing to the situation before Erdogan's occupation. According to human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights more than 300,000 Kurds were forced to left Afrin and now only 25% of the region are Kurds in comparison to 75% of newly settled from Arab, Turkmen and even Palestinian people.

Recently, Turkey has used different humanitarian and charity organisations as sources for funding its demographic project in occupied areas. For example, the Kuwaiti-backed charity organisation called 'Sham Al-Khair Charity' has begun to run a permanent housing association called "Kuwait Al-Rahma" in Shirawa district in Afrin. The new housing association will include building more than 300 houses, a dispensary, a mosque, a school, and a Koranic institute for non-Kurdish residents from other Syrian areas. At the same time, Ankara and its jihadists mercenaries from the Syrian National Coalition continue their systematic plan to preventing the indigenous Kurds to become unable to return back to Afrin. Added to that, these jihadist militias always threatening the residents Kurds of Afrin by murder, kidnapping, harassment, rapes and theft.

Such as policies of demographic changes in Kurdish areas has been conducted by the Baath party with the Assad’s regime ruled for decades. The project of Arabization of Kurdish areas continued with the project of 'Arab belt' that had conducted between 1974 and 1975. The Arabisation of Jazira began when 4000 Arab families were settled in 41 model villages along the border with Turkey, northeast Syria 280 km from Sarekaniye to the Iraqi border in the east and the territories were wide between 10-15 km. That is why the Syrian regime did not respond or react to Turkey's plan in Kurdish areas as such as demographic change plan will meet its agendas as well in the future. Even in the future, when Turkey will withdraw from the Syrian territories, the Kurdish region will be a mixed population with no more Kurdish majority as it was before.

Unfortunately, all these projects now are conducting under the international community and the international coalition that should protect its main trust worthy’s ally of Kurds and the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Zara Saleh

BY: Zara Saleh