Are Kurds against IS

Federal government helps Syria's Kurds : Turkish attacks in Northern Iraq

The German-Turkish relationship could cool down again. And not because the Turkish head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan is currently bombing Kurdish positions in northern Iraq: Ankara reports that it is about the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK). She is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey, her headquarters are in Iraq.

Rather, it became known that the German government is committed to neighboring northern Syria despite the Turkish embargoes. A multi-ethnic alliance rules there, the strongest force of which is the secular Kurdish party PYD. The region, also known as Rojava, has been ruled autonomously since 2012, but is opposed by Syria's central government, Islamists and Turkey.

In 2020, the federal cabinet spent around 14 million euros on health, hygiene and food in northern Syria. This emerges from an unpublished response from the Foreign Office (AA) to the request of the Bundestag member Evrim Sommer (left), which is available to the Tagesspiegel.

As State Secretary Antje Leendertse writes, the federal funds have flowed into “humanitarian aid measures by non-governmental organizations that operate across borders”. Germany officially has no relations with the autonomous administration. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) takes Erdogan into consideration, who equates the PYD and the PKK. Ankara's army has occupied important places in Syrian Kurdistan, and Amnesty International accuses them of massive human rights violations.

Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, on the other hand, is widely recognized internationally. It is ruled by a pro-western coalition, the Bundeswehr helped the local Peshmerga with their training. The Turkish news agency Anadolu reported on Thursday that two Turkish soldiers were killed and four wounded in the current fighting in northern Iraq. The PKK guerrilla, the HPG, announces: "The initiative in the field is up to our forces."

The Turkish army continues to advance into neighboring countries. There is not only international criticism of the missions. In Germany, too, reports from the Bundestag have shown that it is not a question of "self-defense". Parliament's scientific services came to the conclusion in the summer that no armed attack by the PKK from northern Iraq was imminent. Another analysis criticized Ankara's plans to primarily settle Arabs in Syria's occupied Kurdish regions.

Since Ankara's army conquered the Syrian-Kurdish Afrin in 2018, Arab mercenaries, Turkish nationalist gray wolves and Islamists from all over the region have ruled there side by side. A UN report speaks of hostage-taking, torture, rape, and human rights activists of a "war against women".

MEP Sommer said the cabinet would enable “important investments” in the services of general interest in the remaining autonomous region. However, this could "be made more effective if the Federal Government actively cooperates with the political bodies of the self-government of Northeast Syria".

The autonomous government has long been a negotiating partner for other states. France, for example, received fighters from the well-known YPG who once defeated the “Islamic State” (IS) in the Kurdish-Arab-Assyrian alliance SDF. The Kurds, in turn, received weapons from the USA. And Finland declared: The autonomous region is based on “democracy, pluralism and respect for women's rights” - rare praise in the Middle East.

That was in December 2020, when Syria's Kurds flown captured ISIS jihadists from Finland to Helsinki. German Islamists were also brought to the Federal Republic at that time. Maas only vaguely thanked “local authorities” so as not to upset Erdogan. Since then, Syria's Kurds have been left alone with tens of thousands of other IS prisoners.

For his part, Erdogan is trying to resolve the conflicts with the EU - especially the one over natural gas in the Mediterranean. A week ago, his defense minister, Hulusi Akar, visited his German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU), speaking of an “important NATO partner”. But Akar is considered a hardliner on the Kurdish question.

The minister was not brought into office by Erdogan's Islamic AKP, but by its ally, the MHP, which is close to the gray wolves. For them, not only the presence of the PKK in Iraq, but also humanitarian aid for Syria's Kurds is a serious problem.

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