Afrin Operation: reasons, drawbacks - ÖZLEM ALBAYRAK

Afrin Operation: reasons, drawbacks

Those who interpret Turkey’s Afrin operation as “Are we going to war?” have been questioning for days whether this decision was rushed or not. It’s true, precautions wouldn’t hurt. Especially when it is about such a wide scaled operation that might go beyond the east of Euphrates (Justice and Development (AK) Party spokesperson Mahir Ünal yesterday said that the operation in Syria would not be limited to Afrin), it is essential to think through every step very carefully. Because we know very well that this struggle Turkey has engaged in with the reason of not allowing a terror corridor will not be limited with PYD-YPG or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the fight will also partially be with the U.S. which supports these terrorist groups. The U.S. may not dare to confront Turkey due to its controversial state of using a terrorist organization as a tool, but that’s another matter. But in every step that is to be taken, it would be correct to assume that we are entering into an overt or covert war with the U.S.  It’s better to stay awake than have a nightmare.

On the other hand, Turkey was forced to do this for various reasons which can be listed as follows:  

Operations are being carried out against Turkey for it to fall out with its allies: In my opinion, the first is the effort to set Russia and Turkey against each other regarding the Idlib issue, which also means that Turkey’s role in the region is not accepted by certain decision-makers. As you might know, Turkey during the Astana summit suggested that a de-escalation zone  be declared in Idlib to stop YPG’s corridor that could reach the Mediterranean Region, and this decision was accepted by Russia and Iran. However, as Turkey took position in Idlib to ensure the said zone; last week, Russian bases in the region were attacked from a location controlled by Turks. Some forces who are not pleased with the situation were obviously trying to set Russia and Turkey against each other. From the shooting down of the Russian jet to the assassination of the Russian ambassador, this is not the first time we have come under such an attack. The truth must have come out in the phone calls of Erdoğan and Putin as the decision for the Afrin operation was taken after that call.

The US’s ‘border security force’ announcement: Even though it was extended over a period of time, another reason that is as essential as the one I mentioned above is the fact that they did not give up or even take a step back from the “PKK state” project beyond our south border. When Turkey found out that an international coalition under the leadership of the U.S. would establish “border security forces” and that these forces would be made up of the members of terrorist organizations like PKK, Turkey saw that both words and diplomacy had come to an end.

After a decision for a wide-scale operation was taken, and this decision was reported by the papers, the U.S. started backpedaling. Washington started to make conflicting statements. First, they said they would establish a “border security army” and afterward, they claimed that the they did not say such thing, which was followed by U.S. statements regarding Afrin. The coalition’s spokesperson Ryan Dillon stated that Pentagon would not hinder a potential Afrin operation by Turkey and the Pentagon’s spokesperson Galloway said that the Kurdish forces in Afrin were not accepted as a part of the fighting operations against Daesh. Dillon also said, “Afrin is not an operation area of ours.” In this way he is saying that they will not oppose Turkey for Afrin in this stage.

The terror corridor becoming a chronic issue: Even though the deployment of terrorist organizations like PKK and YPG-PYD to our southern borders is not a new thing, it has lately become more internalized. These organizations have been becoming more and more powerful every day. Considering the fact that PYD-YPG is not just a player supported by the U.S. but also a recognized force by Russia, the difficulty and intricacy of overcoming this situation for Turkey becomes more obvious. This is the reason for the increasing tension between Turkey and Russia before the operation despite their good relations and the threats by Assad to shoot down Turkish jets.

On the other hand, it is also clear that this situation is now an internal and external security weakness for Turkey. However, Turkey is alone in this as well, and every step it might take involves great risks. As it is said in the warnings, while it is our decision to lsunch the Afrin Operation, we might not find the authority to end the operation in the later stages. It is possible to say that we might lose control. That means that the U.S. who backpedaled for the west of Euphrates over Afrin can act in a different manner for the east of Euphrates, and that might cause unexpected consequences.

In short, what is being said is right. The situation is risky. On the other hand, I honestly don’t think that the terror corridor below our south border is less risky and less of a security threat. So one option does not seem more preferable compared to the other. There’s only one thing we can say about this: May God help our soldiers.


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