Turkish products sold in Iraqi Kurdistan can be recognized by a barcode starting with the numbers 868 or 869. These make it easier for Kurds to boycott Turkish products in protest against Turkey’s invasion of north-eastern Syria on 9 October 2019. Or does it? It may also confront them with their high level of dependence on Turkey, making it close to impossible to implement such a boycott. And what can the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which depends politically on Ankara’s support, do to defend the Kurds in Syria?
The implications of the invasion by the Turkish army, in cooperation with assorted jihadist groups, are potentially huge for the KRG. Together with the Iraqi government, it has stepped up its border security to prevent a possible influx of members of the Islamic State (IS). The resurgence of the group, which was pushed from its last pocket of territory earlier this year by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), was also the topic of the first statement that the KRG made after American President Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing its remaining troops from Syria. By now, hundreds, if not more than a thousand, IS members have escaped from prisons and camps that were guarded by the SDF until the invasion. Women (and children) escaped from Ain Issa refugee and internment camp, which was ransacked by Turkey-backed groups, while men ran away from prisons.
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