Yesterday, Dr Dilar Dirik (Joyce Pearce Junior Research Fellow) was interviewed on BBC Newshour about Turkey’s military offensive on Kurdish-held areas of north-eastern Syria.
The interview initially looked back at Turkey’s offensive last year into the majority Kurdish district of Afrin in northern Syria. This ostensibly sought to create a safe zone and destroy the Kurdish YPG group, but it led to the occupation of the area by Turkey and Turkish-backed militias, the deaths of dozens of civilians, and the displacement of many more. It has led, Dr Dirik says, to the eradication of Kurdish culture and structures so that Afrin is almost unrecognizable now as a majority Kurdish region. Commenting on the ostensible aim of Turkey and its offensive at that time, she states that while it was framed as a security issue, “there was no immediate military threat coming from that region for Turkish national security.”
Dirik highlights that the 300,000 people displaced are still stranded in refugee camps to the east of Afrin, with no prospect of return to their homes because “the Turkish state has already in the meantime settled other people there who are not from the region.”
On the current offensive, she comments that it will likely be worse because there are “millions of people living in these cities that the Turkish state has now been bombing, and this will lead to an even bigger mass wave of displacement.”
Listen at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w172wq4xljxn2r2 [from 36 mins 34 secs]
Dr Dirik spoke on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show (10 October) on this issue, highlighting the likely consequences for Kurdish women of an invasion by Turkish-backed fighters. Previously, she says, such fighters used sexual violence as a tool of war.
Listen at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00093bb [from 52 mins 50 secs]
Dr Dirik also featured in an edition of The Foreign Desk on Monocle 24 radio on 19 October titled The battle for Rojava. Listen at https://monocle.com/radio/shows/the-foreign-desk/302/ [from 14 mins 25 secs]