ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Dutch government accepted two motions from Dutch MPs last week to pressure Turkey not to attack the Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) and its Kurdish element, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), or militarily invade the northeast of the war-torn country.
“The government has received two clear messages from the House of Representatives [Dutch parliament]: to make clear that a Turkish invasion of northern Syria is unacceptable,” Sadet Karabulut, a member of the opposition’s Socialist Party (SP), told Kurdistan 24, and that it must be made clear “in all possible ways.”
“International law must be upheld. If this doesn’t happen, there should be consequences [for Turkey’s behavior],” she added. “The Kurds deserve our gratitude, not an attack. Work should be done for peaceful negotiations, in which Kurds, Yezidis, Christians, Arabs, and Assyrians have a place.”
The first motion proposed by Karabulut, supported by the Green Left party, Labour Party, and Karabulut’s own party, calls on the government to work with other EU or NATO countries to pressure Turkey to stop a military incursion into the north of Syria.
The second motion, proposed by Joel Voordewind, a Dutch MP for the Christian Union party and backed by the People’s Party for Freedom (VVD), the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), also called on the Dutch government to acquire support from France and the UK to address threats by Ankara to mobilize south of its border.
“The motion was accepted by the Minister. The Kurds (SDF) are the most effective ally on the ground against ISIS,” Voordewind tweeted the same day.
Following pressure from the Dutch government, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, made a statement on Dec. 14 calling on Turkey not to take unilateral actions in Syria that endanger the fight against the Islamic State.
“The Netherlands continues to support this call and will repeat it where possible,” the government said on Jan. 16.
Dutch CDA MP Martijn van Helvert, who supported Voordewind’s motion, tweeted that he had also met with the Turkish ambassador to the Netherlands, Şaban Dişli, on Thursday to express his concerns.
Met de ambassadeur @sabandisli van #Turkije mijn grote zorgen besproken over de #Kurden en andere minderheden in #Syrië nu 80.000 Turkse militairen aan de grens staan. De #ambassadeur geeft aan dat Turkije de Kurden zal beschermen, maar terroristen zal aanpakken. pic.twitter.com/6CHtsQo4Ym— Martijn van Helvert🇳🇱🇪🇺 (@Martijncda) January 17, 2019
The Dutch MP said he fears for the future of Kurds and other minorities in Syria now that “80,000 Turkish soldiers are amassing at the border.”
However, the Turkish ambassador in their meeting asserted they would ‘protect Kurds’ and ‘fight terrorists.’
Kurds from the Afrin region, which Turkey and Turkish-backed groups took over in March, were quick to disagree with the claim that Turkey would not target Kurds.
“It is Turkey’s excuse to accuse the Kurds [of being] a terrorist group,” Sinam Mohamed, the representative of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) in Washington, who is originally from Afrin, told Kurdistan 24.
“Turkey carried out ethnic cleansing and [demographic] change in Afrin. Are the Kurds in Afrin terrorists? Everybody saw what happened in Afrin, and it is still going on.”
Initially, many Kurds were afraid of a possible Turkish attack after US President Donald Trump announced he would withdraw troops last month. US senior officials, however, such as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said the US would ensure Turkey did not target its allies on the ground, namely the Kurds.
Negotiations between Turkey and the US as well as a maintained US presence on the ground so far have prevented any escalation in the northeast.
Editing by Nadia Riva