The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) has been hitting the People’s Protection Units (YPG) terror organization’s positions in Afrin, Syria, with Fırtına howitzers for the last few days. Military mobility has climbed on our border... and Turkey’s land operation in Afrin in the near future is being discussed.
Let us first remember that Afrin is under the YPG’S control and the YPG militants here are not the ones who take shelter under the U.S. flag, but the region is under Russia’s control.
As you can remember, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan went to Sochi to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on May 3, 2017, his file included photos showing Democratic Union Party (PYD) militants and Russian soldiers together, and Putin was asked about the presence of the Russian flag in Afrin.
Making statements to journalists, including myself, on the way back, Erdoğan said, "We gave these photos to Mr. Putin. It is impossible for our soldiers to be involved in such a thing. Despite this, I will examine these photos.” Erdoğan's visit to Sochi was also aimed at seeing whether the U.S. and Russia had consensus on Syria and taking steps accordingly.
It was during that visit that we had first heard of the concept of “safe zones” in relation to Syria from Erdoğan.
On those days, I had written, "Do not be surprised if the Turkish flag is waved in Idlib soon." This is because Idlib had been declared a safe zone during that meeting and Turkey had been preparing to ensure the order in that region.
Two months after the Erdoğan-Putin meeting in Sochi, Russia-U.S. relations got worse than ever, while Turkey-Russia relations improved to far better than they were prior to the jet crisis.
And Turkey and Russia have created a strong resistance against the U.S.’s Syrian policy.
In such an atmosphere, Russia seems to be changing its Afrin policy. It is also reported that Russian troops in the region are starting to withdraw.
Afrin is the westernmost point of the PYD corridor that Turkey has been objecting to since the beginning. So, if this corridor is formed, the southern borders of Turkey will be fully controlled by the PYD-YPG, namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terror organization. But, it is not just that.
Turkey's relationship with the Arab world will be broken. Moreover, terrorist groups will have reached the Mediterranean.
Also, Afrin is one of the main staff-recruitment bases for the PKK terror organization, which has come to an end in Turkey.
During the month of Ramadan, Erdoğan gave an iftar dinner to newspaper and television chiefs at the Huber Mansion. At that dinner, I had a few important meetings on Turkey's Syrian policy.
Here is what I found in these meetings:
+ Turkey has to make a few more moves like the Operation Euphrates Shield. The political will has already decided on this issue. Although there was no resistance in the military sense, there was a waste of time while preparations were being completed.
+ Turkey is willing for order in Idlib, but it is aware of the gravity of the equation amid the region’s sociology.
+ There is no divergence in the state that the formation in the north of Syria is directly related to the survival of Turkey.
Let us put a parenthesis here. (A few years ago, some mentors interpreted the formation of the Rojava line, asking whether Turkey wanted the Daesh terror organization or Kurds, namely the PYD, on its southern borders. They were highly influential in Ankara. Moreover, some who said, “let us found a Kurdish state if it is needed,” were quite influential in political circles.)
+ Iraq has been divided. If Syria is divided too, the concern that it will be Turkey’s turn is strong.
+ It is a matter of curiosity when the relationship between the U.S. and PYD-YPG will end.
Turkey has changed its "concept of combatting terrorism” in which it accepted the attack, not the defense, and decided to shoot the terrorist elements seen as threats on the spot. Operation Euphrates Shield, as well as hitting Sinjar and Karachok, is also the result of this concept.
Now that Afrin has become the recruitment base for the PKK… Now that Afrin is the westernmost point of the corridor that the PKK wants to create and which threatens Turkey over Mount Amanus… And now that Russia and Turkey agree on "conflict-free zones" in Syria...
A land operation on Afrin is a matter of time!
There is good in what is happening.
In the meantime, if interventions in some areas, such as Afrin, could have been done much earlier, today we could be talking about something different. Conducting a few operations similar to Operation Euphrates Shield is crucial for Turkey's survival.