Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Turkey’s Battle in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan/

Many enemies exist before Turkey, yet the arch enemy slot is saved for Kurds who have long sought to break away from the country in hopes of an independent state. Syrian Kurds allied with their Turkish counterparts are also viewed as chief foes by Turkey.

What should serve as a reminder is that Kurds, like Arabs, have different backgrounds and are spread across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Turkish forces had previously gone into Iraq in pursuit of Turkish Kurd groups that cross borders.

Turkey’s separatist Kurds have suddenly come to pose a grave danger over the past few months, as Syrian Kurdish factions stretched over what is estimated by reporters to be an approximate 600 km across northern Syria, Turkey’s war-torn neighbor.

What is more, despite the leftist views portrayed by Syrian Kurds, under which they have merited a great U.S. intelligence and logistics support in the name of fighting the hardline group ISIS, they have gained the backing which enabled them to expand further.

All regional players -Turkey, Iran, Syrian regime, Syrian opposition, and Russians- have not objected to strengthening the Kurds in Syria so long that the chief target is ISIS and ISIS alone. But Kurdish forces have gone beyond plan, taking over cities and swathes of Syrian and Iraqi land.

Kurdish forces did not stop at fighting ISIS, but have evacuated many lands of its residents! As a result to the overwhelming expansion, Kurdish forces are now pitted in clashes with Turkish forces, ISIS groups and even Syrian regime armed forces.

Sensing danger of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) movements, Turkey made the decision to move into Syria for the first time since the crisis erupted five years ago. Turkey viewed actions of Kurdish faction as those converging into a project of establishing a self-declared ‘state’ which lies on Turkish borders and threatens its security.

One cannot overlook the serious threats entailed by the Syrian civil war and posed against all neighboring countries. Sharing the longest borderline with the war-torn country, Turkey is the country chief effected country by the crisis as ongoing clashes stretch across it borders.

Standing second place, Iraq is vastly affected by the Syrian war; especially that it had long lost control over its borders. Iraq also suffers the loss of a third of its land to ISIS.

As for Jordan, despite implementing full border control, over a million Syrian refugees have crossed over. More so, clashes renewed in nearby bordering Daraa governorate. Iranian and Lebanon-based Hezbollah militias also are centered in proximity to Jordan’s borders, as they fight against the Syrian opposition present north.

Turkey has seen an imminent threat against its country’s unity, based on which they have stepped into Syria to track down and neutralize threats posed by Kurdish militias.

The swift victory achieved by the Turkish army in Jarabulus, a Syrian city administratively belonging to Aleppo Governorate, might lead to an agreement which restricts Kurdish militants in Syria and ends future plan on establishing another separatist state for Kurds, similar to what is showcased by Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraqi Kurdistan has been partially independent since 1990.

Despite the Syrian regime head Bashar al-Assad and Turkey long haring animosity, the two have found common ground in rejecting any establishment of a Kurdish independent state in Syria.

Ankara considers the existence of such an establishment would serve a direct threat to its security, since it would be situated right in its southern backyard. A Kurdish independency in Syria would be a backbone aiding Turkey’s separatist Kurdish movement.

As for Assad’s case, a Kurdish expansion might be a Trojan horse playing the U.S.-led international coalition’s bidding in outing him and pushing forward with the plot for Syria’s transformation. A similar scheme was used in Iraq, as the Iraqi Kurdistan state played a chief role in toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime.

In my opinion, Turkey could have strangled the monster in the crib with an early intervention and full border control. Had Turkey gained some control in a great neighboring Syrian governorate such as Aleppo, it could have influenced the conflict’s outcome and mitigated any threat. However, it seems that Ankra did not wish further complicate the situation at the time, yet it has come at the cost of the direct threat it face today.

One must also account for other potential obstacles, bound by NATO, Turkey’s intervention in any war which is not approved by the body would leave it standing alone and uncovered. Not to mention the consequences of breaking international laws on sovereignty.

A question surfaces as current developments take place, can Turkey with its recent military intervention bring all conflicting parties in Syria to a political solution, and end the war? Now that it has become a greater influence. Nonetheless, Iranian and Russian cooperation is still a difficult reach. The two blocs do not feel that Assad’s leave is a necessity for resolution.

Any solution which keeps Assad in power will only add to the conflict, even if politicians concede.

Assad is viewed by hi people as an authoritarian dictatorship and has lost any effective Syrian support. Fighting Assad’s battles now are foreign imported militias. Even if the political leadership of the Syrian opposition approves Assad’s stay, opposition fighters will still rebel against him.

Syrian Opposition fighters cannot simply forget half a million deaths, nor can a politically brokered agreement in Swiss hotels force them to.