Syrian Arab tribes call for Turkish intervention against Kurdish YPG forces

Located 20 miles south of the Syrian-Turkish border, the population of Kurdish-run Manbij is predominantly Arab. (AFP)
Updated 28 November 2018
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Syrian Arab tribes call for Turkish intervention against Kurdish YPG forces

  • The YPG’s call for compulsory enlistment was the last straw for prominent Arab tribes
  • Other grievances include discrimination against local Arabs and their displacement from some Arab-majority villages

ANKARA: Some Arab tribes in Manbij have called for Turkish military intervention in the northern Syrian town against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), Syrian sources told Arab News.
The YPG’s call for compulsory enlistment was the last straw for prominent Arab tribes such as the Baghara and Ghanaim, the sources said.
Other grievances include discrimination against local Arabs and their displacement from some Arab-majority villages, the sources added.
Located 20 miles south of the Syrian-Turkish border, the population of Kurdish-run Manbij is predominantly Arab. The town was captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from Daesh.
The Bushban tribe expressed in a statement its determination to liberate Manbij from Kurdish rule.
The Bani Said, Naim, Fennel, Popna, Aldamalkh, Majadameh and Al-Bustalan tribes followed suit with their own statements, as did a Turkmen tribe.
Mohammed Najouma, deputy head of the Stabilization Committee in Aleppo governorate, which runs areas captured from Daesh and the SDF, said the region will not be stable until the YPG withdraws from Manbij.
“They’re carrying out raids, illegally arresting tribe members, assassinating anyone who dares oppose their policies, and forcing people to join demonstrations in favor of the YPG,” he told Arab News.
In line with a road map agreed by Turkey and the US, troops from both countries began conducting joint patrols in Manbij from Nov. 1.
As part of the deal, the YPG, seen by Ankara as a terrorist group, is expected to withdraw from the town, and a new governing council is expected to be formed by local Arabs.
In June, the Popna tribe, the largest in Manbij, welcomed the road map and expressed support for Turkish patrols in the area.
But Washington’s insistence on maintaining its partnership with the YPG despite local opposition may shake regional balances and undermine the already fragile implementation of the roadmap, experts told Arab News.
“Given the demographic characteristics of the region and the refusal of local tribes to have the YPG in their areas, any partnership with it means ignoring local and regional interests, and will lead to the escalation of tensions and the return of extremism under different forms,” Najouma said.
Ammar Hamou, a Jordan-based Syrian journalist, said Arab tribes believe that the YPG is a temporary authority, so siding with it out of fear will not benefit them in the long run and may provoke tensions between them and other Arab tribes.
The US partnership with the YPG will end as soon as the threat from Daesh is completely eliminated, he added.
“We’ve witnessed civil disobedience and closure of shops in protest against the YPG in Manbij,” Hamou told Arab News.
“Local opposition voices are becoming stronger, and this could be an excuse for Ankara to enter Manbij as it did before in Afrin.”
Last week, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged the US to complete implementation of the road map for Manbij by the end of this year.


Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

Updated 23 May 2019
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Israel cuts Gaza fishing limit after fire balloons

  • Israel reduced the fishing limit to 10 nautical miles
  • The countries agreed to 20 nautical miles in the Oslo accords of 1990s

JERUSALEM: Israel reduced the offshore fishing limits it imposes for vessels operating out of Gaza from Thursday after Palestinians floated balloons fitted with incendiaries over the border, officials said.
The cut came just two days after Israel restored the limits to those set in April ahead of an Israeli general election.
“A decision was taken this Wednesday evening to reduce the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles until further notice,” said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
“The decision was taken after the launch of incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel,” it added.
Palestinians in Gaza have frequently floated balloons fitted with firebombs over the border to damage Israeli property and have in the past succeeded in setting fire to large areas of farmland.
Israel banned fishing completely when two days of deadly violence erupted earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following a truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit that had been restored on Tuesday was the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities have not said whether the 15-mile limit was one of the understandings reached as part of the May 6 cease-fire in Gaza but Israel media reported on Monday that it was.
The additional nautical miles are important to Gaza fishermen as they bring more valuable, deeper water species within reach.
Four Israeli civilians and 25 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed in this month’s exchanges across the border.