Turkey`s historic decision: Operation Peace Spring changing balance of power

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Baku, 10 October 2019 –

U.S. President Donald Trump`s decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria has resonated across the world. There have been different approaches to this decision. Some even said the withdrawal of troops was shameful for America. Especially in the Pentagon there are those who criticized the U.S. president, stressing the necessity of resisting to Turkey. But that would have been an illogical and irrational decision because an ally resisting Turkey and supporting illegal armed groups would have been ridiculous. Experts therefore believe that Washington would not interfere with Ankara`s operation. At the same time, it should be admitted that Turkey undertook a very hard mission because it is confronted by a 110,000-strong well-armed group. Of course, they will be regularly resorting to different tricks. The operation may drag on. But Ankara has no other choice. If Turkey fails this operation, the country may lose its influence in the new world order, which will put all regional nations, including Kurds, at risk. This article will look – through a geopolitical prism – at Turkey`s Operation Peace Spring against PKK/YPG and ISIL terror organizations in the east of the Euphrates River.

Resolute move: Ankara`s forced choice

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan`s Syria policy has shocked the world. Ankara reiterated its determination to neutralize terrorist groups in Syria and expressed readiness to embark on a military operation in northern Syria. Following a telephone conversation between Erdogan and Trump in the evening of October 7, the media released a sensational news story that the U.S. is withdrawing its troops from Syria. Then a video evidence was released. It was clear that Erdogan managed to assure Trump of his determination to begin a military operation in Syria.

In fact, the process was ongoing for two years, with Ankara trying to explain to both Washington and Moscow that it was forced to conduct a military operation in Syria. But neither the U.S., nor Russia were accepting Turkey`s explanations. Americans were arming PKK/YPG, while Russia reinforced the Assad regime. Helped by Russia and Iran, pro-government forces in Syria launched an offensive on Idlib. But it was evident that the success of this operation was impossible without Turkey.

It manifested itself during Erdogan-Putin meetings. The Turkish leader openly declared that he had no other option but to begin a military operation in the north of Syria. The operation was necessary for ensuring Turkey`s own security and that of nations living in the region, including Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. What should be emphasized is that it was Russia that really understood Turkey`s problems. The Russian leader said Turkey was demanding its natural and legal right, however, emphasizing that Syria`s territorial integrity must not be violated. Of course, it is a crucial term that Ankara accepts because Turkey is most interested in Syrian territorial integrity.

Iran`s reaction was interesting. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif`s statement stressed Tehran`s objection. But Iran accepts that Turkey has the right to combat terrorism. Tehran seems to object Ankara`s operation in order not to cast shadow on its own Syrian policy that it has been pursuing for years. But, in reality, it cannot prevent the operation.

Against this background, Trump`s decision looks correct from the strategic point of view. If Washington opposed the Operation Peace Spring, it would lose its geopolitical standing. Firstly, it would lose such a powerful ally like Turkey, which would undermine seriously its geopolitical potential in the Middle East. Secondly, it would be known as a country that supports terrorists and separatists in the Middle East. Thirdly, it would get involved in a longstanding fight. These factors contradict the U.S. strategic interests. However, some American officials called Trump`s decision a tragedy, which points to their emotional approach to the issue and their reluctance to take Turkey for serious.

The emotional side of the story is that American soldiers feel embarrassed at retreating in the face of the Turkish army`s operation. But, in fact, Trump saved them from a big tragedy. So it`s regrettable that the American media are trying to present the developments in an emotional way. These reports sometimes are very ridiculous. One report, for example, alleged that a Pentagon official said that if the Turkish army moved deep into northern Syria and the Syrian Democratic Forces lose control of thousands of ISIL terrorists, the situation would get much worse. Will Turkey be unable to lose several thousand ISIL fighters? If the Syrian Democratic Forces are powerful enough, they would not be defeated by the Turkish army. And if they do, no ISIL terrorist will be able to escape from the Mehmetchik.

Geopolitical terms: for stability and security

Naturally, these are primitive excuses made in order to hide the truth. The point is that the success Turkey`s military operation would reveal the main goals of the U.S. Middle East policy and its longstanding support for terrorists. Terrorists` explanations would shed light on the issue.

A look at the Turkish leader`s decision through a geopolitical prism shows that Erdogan made a crucial move. As many experts believe Turkey is, in fact, interfering in the existing geopolitical dynamics. Having ignored Turkey, countries from different parts of the world were deriving geopolitical benefits in Syria. But now Turkey is destroying this attitude of ignorance towards itself.

Turkey is proving that terrorism will never take roots in the Middle East and that there is a force in this region capable of defending it. Is there a second country in the region capable of doing it? All regional countries are involved in different processes running contrary to international law. Turkey is the only regional state to pursue a policy aimed at promoting justice, international law, human rights and interests of regional countries. Sometimes Ankara is criticized – both by internal and external forces – for slowness. But Turkey has always been committed to its deeply-rooted political traditions and statehood philosophy.

What is remarkable is that on this issue Erdogan enjoys support even from members of the Turkish opposition. For example, Meral Aksener said that it was necessary to launch a military operation in Syria in response to Washington`s behavior. In general, the Turkish society supports the military. CHP officials also criticized Trump for his warnings and said that as a sovereign state Turkey had the right to make independent decisions. Interestingly, Kemal Kilicdaroglu also backed the operation along with other politicians and public figures.

At the same time, Turkey is preventing the establishment of a quasi-state that could be established in the region based on the philosophy of terrorism. According to statistics, the Syrian Democratic Forces have a 110,000-strong army. They possess advanced weapons and intelligence equipment. Trump blamed Turkey, Russia, Iran, Kurds (in his words) and Iraq.

On the night of October 8, Turkish jets bombarded the terrorists` facilities, which experts called the "first chapter of the operation''. Media are spreading reports of terrorists fleeing the battlefield hiding among local population. But the real picture is still unknown. Anyway, the aforementioned factors indicate that Turkey`s military operation in Syria will be gathering momentum in the days ahead.

Interestingly, Damascus has not expressed any reaction to these events so far. Some link this to agreement between Turkey and Syria that the Turks will clear Kurds from Syria. The U.S. does not want Syria to do it itself. Under Adana treaty, Damascus reserves the right to do it, and then the parties shall address the territorial issue. But millions of Syrians who fled their homes should return. All this should be done on the condition that Syria`s unitary state building system is preserved, which would be acceptable for both parties.

So Turkey is set to make a historic move that could change the geopolitical destiny of the Middle East. The hopes of those who ignore Turkey`s role in the Middle East are being dashed. Justice should prevail!

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