Iran, Assad and PKK’s dance in Afrin - MEHMET ACET

Iran, Assad and PKK’s dance in Afrin

It is known that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)’s Syrian affiliate, the YPG, which has understood that it cannot respond to the operations of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF)/ Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the context of Operation Olive Branch, since the very first day, which was launched on Jan. 20 , is carrying out under-the-table negotiations with the Damascus regime.

According to the information obtained from the security sources in Ankara, PKK has been offering the regime to plant Syrian flags in the center of Afrin, to hand over some public institutions and organizations, however in return, the military presence of YPG would remain in the town.

The aim of the suggestion was clear:

Stopping the advance Olive Branch operation into the city center by allowing the existence of the regime in Afrin.

On Monday morning, the official news agency of Syria reported that “The troops affiliated with the Damascus regime would enter Afrin in a couple of hours”.

During the evening, the Turkish Government Spokesman Bekir Bozdağ made the following statement:

Our intelligence organization, security units and the government are following the issue closely in all aspects. Although SANA, the official news agency of Syria, reported that some forces affiliated with the Syrian regime are to enter Afrin, this news has not been verified by official authorities; it is untrue and has nothing to do with reality. Additionally, according to information given to us by our security sources, it is quite out of the question that the Syrian administration will send any forces to the region for the time being."

The expression “out of question for the time being” was intended to emphasize the fact that such there is no guarantee that it will not happen in the future.

That is why the continuation of the statement was full of warnings about the heavy costs of such an occurrence.

On Monday, news verifying the data of Ankara was published in German publication Deutsche Welle.

According to the report, YPG spokesman Nuri Mahmud who made a statement to Reuters said that, “There is no agreement. We just made a call to the Syrian army to come and defend its own borders. However, the Syrian army didn’t do its duty for Afrin.”

Nevertheless, some evening reports yesterday complicated the situation even more.

According to Reuters, the media outlet of Hezbollah announced that, “Pro-Assad forces coming from Aleppo have started to enter Afrin.”

Following this announcement, new reports started coming one after the other.

Syria’s state television first announced that routes of militias trying to enter Afrin were being bombed by the TAF.

Anadolu Agency, a little while later, reported that artillery fire was shot as a warning to these militias and that the groups trying to enter Afrin turned back when they were 10 kilometers away from the town.

So, what did these reports mean?

Was it another provocation to keep Ankara on the edge of its seat and testing its determination?

Or, was such a deployment in line with a secret agreement really taking place?

If we were to trace the expression “Pro-Assad forces and coming from Aleppo” it will lead us to Tehran, not Damascus.

If you ask why, it is easily understood that the group which was announced to enter the center of Afrin was under the command of Iran from the television channel this news was broadcasted from as well as the expression itself.

We know that Turkey is carrying out its Afrin operation in cooperation with Russia.

The day before, President Erdoğan made another telephone call with the Russian President Putin and it was reflected in the press that Erdoğan warned Putin telling him, “If the Syrian regime enters Afrin, there will be consequences.”

This sentence from the statement of the Government Spokesman Bekir Bozdağ could have been considered as another warning of Ankara to Moscow:

“Russia’s outlook on the Olive Branch Operation has not changed since day one.”

What are we supposed to understand from this sentence?

There was a mutual understanding with Russia from the beginning that Operation Olive Branch would include Afrin’s city center.

In other words, it may be a message to Russia saying, “We have an agreement.”

At this point, we need to evaluate the entrance of militia, which is under the command of Iran, to Afrin spherically.

By seeking answers to these questions:

1- Is Russia really an actor that is directly planning this affair?

2- If the news reported by the media outlet of Hezbollah is true, is the entrance of Iran-controlled militia into Afrin taking place through the incitement/guidance of Tehran independently of Russia?

3- If the second option is true, which I think it is, will Russia take an initiative toward stopping Iran?

We know Iran has stated that it is uncomfortable with the Afrin operation since the very first day.

Considering that the militia coming from Aleppo who were trying to enter Afrin are under Iran’s command, we had better keep in mind the possibility that Iran is carrying out such a provocation by bypassing Russia.

We are talking about a region where the devils are running wild, and a shambles.

However, with the actual intervention of the TAF that stopped this mobilization in Afrin’s south, Ankara showed that it would not be deterred by such occurrences.

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