Syrian Kurds are awaiting the results of the Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections, a few hours before the voting date. For them, the current elections represent a window to understand what awaits them in the coming years, to know the features of the Turkish state’s policy towards the northern Syrian regions with a Kurdish majority adjacent to the borders, to determine the future of Turkey’s presence in Syrian Kurdish cities and towns, and to clarify the fate of the threats of military operations against what Ankara describes as “terrorists.” » The Kurds associated with the “PKK” and other thorny and complex files between Turkey and the Kurds of Syria.
Fener, a young man in his thirties who works as an employee of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, and was sitting in the candle café in the center of the city of Qamishli in Al-Hasakah Governorate, says that he hopes that the results of the Turkish elections will produce “a government that adopts peace options, changes its policies towards the countries of the region, and strengthens good-neighborly relations.”
As for Gulbahar (27 years), who was shopping in the central market of the city of Qamishli, she expressed her fear of the current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan winning a new term, and what that means from the renewal of military operations against the Kurds in Syria. And she said, “Certainly, he (the Turkish president) will launch attacks and military operations against the regions of northeastern Syria, so we are following the elections with concern, and we prefer Erdogan’s loss and the removal of his danger, even in favor of Kilicdaroglu, whose campaign was characterized by ambiguity towards us.”
On the other hand, the young woman, Fahima, said that over the course of 10 years of the war in their country, the Syrian Kurds have paid a large tax as a result of Ankara’s accusations that they are linked to the Turkish Kurds rebelling against their government. She explained that Turkey accuses some Kurdish parties and their military forces of “subordination to the PKK… We have paid a heavy price of asylum, displacement, destruction and killing. We are impatiently awaiting salvation.”
Baraa Sabri, a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, believes that the Syrian Kurds know that Erdogan’s victory means more threats and military operations towards their regions, and he said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Syrian Kurds fear that Ankara will build suspicious relations with Moscow.” And Tehran and Damascus are against their domestic ambitions, and they fear that it will impose a kind of economic strangulation on them,” something he said could lead to more Kurdish immigration and “demographic change.”
The Syrian Kurds are also closely following the alliances of the Turkish “People’s Democratic Party” in favor of the Turkish opposition led by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, “and they hope that this party has achieved understandings with Davutoğlu to stop the Turkish attacks on northeastern Syria,” according to Sabri. It seems that the “understandings” he is talking about are related to the Kurds’ desire for the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the areas they controlled in northern Syria, especially Kurdish areas such as Afrin (in the western countryside of Aleppo) and Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain, in the northern countryside of Hasakah).
Sabri continued, saying that the mouthpiece of the Syrian Kurds says: “If we pay the tax on behalf of the Kurds of Turkey, then we have the right to demand that our interests be secured from the main representative of the Kurds of Turkey in his upcoming electoral negotiations,” referring to the “Democratic Peoples” party.
Turkish forces regularly launch air strikes and military ground operations against military sites under the control of the “Syrian Democratic Forces”, the military wing of the Autonomous Administration. The Turkish army captured 3 major cities in northern Syria that were in the grip of the “SDF”, first of which was the city of Afrin, located in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo (March 2018), then Tal Abyad, north of Raqqa, and Ras al-Ayn in the countryside of Hasakah (October 2019).
Elham Ahmed, the head of the executive body of the Syrian Democratic Council, said that they are ready to deal with the new Turkish government, based on providing security, peace and a solution. », referring to Ankara’s desire to normalize its relations with the regime in Damascus. She expressed her hope that the ballot boxes would produce a “government that believes in peace and dialogue” to solve the region’s problems.
The Turkish elections usually receive wide interest among the residents of the cities and areas adjacent to the Turkish border, particularly the Kurds, because of their direct impact on the security of the region and the economic relations between the two sides of the border.
Khaled Amin, a textile seller in the central market of Qamishli, stated that the reason for their interest in the Turkish elections is that most of the commercial goods and food commodities are made in Turkey. He leaves the Syrian territories except by international resolutions,” according to his opinion. Shiraz, who owns a money transfer and exchange company in the central market, agreed with him, who said that the Turkish threats “caused stagnation in the movement of markets and trade, and we are looking at the current elections in the hope that they will be a bridge to escape from this situation.”
In the same context, Abdel-Baqi Hamza, a left-wing Kurdish politician, confirmed that the Turkish elections are “fateful” for the residents of the region and the whole of Syria, “because these elections will determine the fate of the Middle East and the countries neighboring Turkey.” He did not hide his hopes for the victory of the Turkish opposition, saying that “the victory of the opposition will give impetus to the revival of democracy, parliamentary life, and work towards peace, which will affect the countries of the region. And Syria at the top.