The UK political establishment have remained silent in the wake of British citizen Anna Campbell’s death defending the multi-ethnic, feminist Rojava community from an invasion by Erdogan’s authoritarian Islamist state.
Fighting for the YPJ, a militia incorporated in the UK-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Campbell broke no laws and is only guilty of serving UK allies. The leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the political body to which the YPJ pledge allegiance – has even attended two Parliamentary sessions in the UK in which he successfully brokered a training and arming alliance with the UK Special Forces.
It would therefore seem obvious that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson would speak out against a NATO ally slaughtering a 26-year-old British citizen who broke no laws, neither British nor international.
The deafening silence, however, points to our own culpability: we have obligingly armed Erdogan to the teeth, feeding his hunger to purge Kurds from his own ethno-state and beyond. The weapons used to murder Campbell were largely designed and built in the UK, in her hometown of Bristol in many cases.
The Turkish airforce currently fly the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. Since 1995 they have been serviced by Lockheed Martin, who boast a huge presence in the UK, including an MoD-patrolled office complex called UKMFTS near Filton, Bristol where training, maintenance and optimisation of the fighter jets take place.
In addition to Lockheed Martin, the French corporation Thales have an office in Bristol Business Park. Thales UK are involved in the manufacture of guided missile systems in a partnership with Raytheon, the American bomb specialists who have seen their share price grow 30% since the start of the brutal Saudi intervention into Yemen, which says everything you need to know about them.
The future of this UK-Turkish military bromance, however, is even brighter.
Turkey have splashed the cash on new designer aircraft to replace the ageing F-16’s by 2023, and they have so far looked solely to the UK arms industry to supply what they need.
Theresa May travelled to Ankara roughly a year before Campbell was killed in order to broker a deal to assist in designing and ultimately manufacturing the TAI TFX ‘aerial superiority fighter jet’. Perhaps taking lessons from her ‘dealmaker-in-chief’ peer across the Atlantic, May left Turkey with a £100 million contract for BAE Systems to assist in designing the next generation airborne assassination instrument, as well as an agreement for Rolls Royce to design and manufacture the engine on condition of the UK company expanding their research and production facilities to Turkey.
The contracts for the ambitious TFX project were probably only halfway through a scanning pile next to a photocopier in some dingy Ankara administration office when Campbell was blown to pieces by the militaristic equivalent of a Nokia 3310, soon to be upgraded by her home country to a cutting-edge smart iJet, capable of tearing civilians to pieces in ways an average imagination can barely even conceive.
It would therefore be disingenuous for Boris Johnson or Theresa May to stand in front of the cameras and give the usual platitudes after a UK citizen has been killed abroad. We aren’t the mourning extended family, we’re the chancers who made a profit from flogging the murder weapons. And thanks to some slick wheeler-dealing on the hands of our wise leaders Erdogan will have flashier kit next time he feels that genocidal urge in his belly.
Don’t let Anna Campbell’s death be in vain. Now more than ever take note of immense human cost of our military profiteering overseas. Campbell’s death may have caused a slight stir in the UK press behind articles of Cambridge Analytica weaponising our shopping lists and Fitbit data; had she been just another Syrian Kurd killed by the Turkish invasion, or a Yemeni child under the crosshairs of BAE Systems’ latest flying monstrosity, then we would have never heard a peep.