"Turkish march" in the Middle East: third operation set to start

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Baku, 14 December 2018 –

Turkey has grabbed the global media spotlight as Ankara said it will launch a new military operation in Syria. The announcement came from the President of Turkey, which confirms its authenticity. The Turkish leader is known as a political leaderwho keeps his word. On the other hand, this kind of unverified news would have never been reported. The announcement therefore provoked serious reaction from the West and Russia. Washington immediately protested. Moscow seemingly better understands Ankara`s right to ensure its security. Experts try to predict what the geopolitical consequences will be if the scenario develops further. In this article we will try to analyze these issues.

Erdogan`s political course: the strengthening of Turkish statehood

The statement that Turkey`s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made on December 12 came as a complete surprise to global media and experts. Ankara announced that it will start a large-scale operation to free the east of the Euphrates. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the new operation will be a follow-up to the Turkish army`s anti-terrorist Operation Euphrates Shield in Al-Bab and Operation Olive Branch in Afrin. The operation targets terrorist groups based in the east of the Euphrates. It does not target the U.S. military contingent there.

The Turkish leader`s announcement has been widely commented by journalists and experts. The United States immediately reacted, with the Pentagon and Department of State protesting against any unilateral military action. A Pentagon spokesman said "unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party, particularly as U.S. personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern.''

The true essence of these diplomatic statements is that Washington is committed to continuing to support terrorist groups in Syria and using them against regional countries. This side of the issue causes serious concern. In addition, it poses threat not only to Turkey, as Syria, Iran, Iraq and even Russia will also face dangers.Experts believe that it was confirmed by Lavrov who said, following Putin-Erdogan meeting in Sochi, that "the main threat comes from the east of the Euphrates”.

The issue became clear with chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford`s telling The Washington Post that American service members had trained and equipped about a fifth of a force of about 35,000 to 40,000 local troops that are expected to be deployed in YPG region (see: Ilk hedef Arap Bölgeleri… Resulayn’a TSK, Tal Abyad’a ÖSO yığınağı… / "Habertürk", 13 December, 2018).

Moscow shares Ankara`s view that Washington wants to establish a new state in the north of Syria using the ethnic factor. And Turkey should naturally interfere because this terrorist state is planned to be created in the vicinity of its borders, which will be source of serious threat coming from the south. Taking into account that a terrorist state called Armenia was already established near Turkey`s northern borders and that several groups (for example, PKK) in Iraq are fighting against Turkey, then Ankara`s sensitive approach to what is happening in the north of Syria becomes understandable.

This fully justifies Turkey`s decision to launch a military operation in Syria. It should be noted that certain forces are trying to label this as ''Turkish-Kurdish'' standoff. But facts show that the reality is completely different. PYD expelled 260,000 Kurds from the east of the Euphrates who found shelter in Turkey. Apart from Kurds, the terrorists also displaced Arabs, Turkmens and other peoples from that region. This means that Turkey is not suppressing ethnic identity, but is fighting against terror in order to ensure its own security. People living in the region regard Turkey as the savior. In particular, Arabs living in the Syrian town of Tell Abyad are eager for Turkey`s intervention.

A couple of days ago leaders of 11 tribes in Manbij called on talks with Ankara and expressed their wish to get rid of terror. But there are also tribes who fight shoulder to shoulder with terrorists funded by the U.S. They are mainly Arabs, Armenians and Assyrians. They are the victims of terrorism and wrong propaganda campaign. None of the local populations are targeted by the Turkish army.

Regional geopolitics and superpowers: reactions to Ankara`s plans

So there is a high probability that Turkey will start a military operation in Syria the next few days. Ankara has already revealed main points of the plan. Turkey will target the PKK`s main stronghold in Qandil. PKK created a terror corridor that stretches from Qandil to Sinjar and Manbij, using it for weapons and food delivery and communication. Turkey`s new operation aims to destroy this corridor. The Turkish army will close the north of Syria to terrorists, then target Sinjar and finally purge Qandil from terrorists. This will completely eradicate a terror threat in the eastern and southern borders of Turkey.

Indeed, it is a move that does not cause damage to any country and aims solely to ensure Turkey`s independence. Each member state of the United Nations has the right to make such a move. However, Ankara`s operation will probably have several geopolitical implications. Most importantly, experts try to predict Washington`s reaction. As we already said the U.S. military authorities and Department of State voiced their protest. But there is a little probability that Washington will take any action.

Firstly, the Turkish army does not target American soldiers. Its main target is YPG/PKK. If U.S. personnel will be in the vicinity it is their own problem.

Secondly, as a NATO member, Turkey is the United States` ally in the military area. If Washington acts against its ally, then it will be responsible for its moves. Thirdly, creating a new terrorist state, using the fight against ISIS as a pretext, that will threaten regional countries is a crime against humanity. According to statistics, the U.S. has supplied cutting-edge weapons and military equipment to 70,000 terrorists. It is a military unit of an average country. A question arises: who needs these terrorists and who they target? The answer is clear.

What is interesting is how regional counties would react to Turkey`s operation. According to estimates, Iran will not seriously protest the decision. There are certain reasons for this. It`s also very unlikely that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will oppose. Egypt may voice concern, but any action is excluded. Israel will ''remain silent'' as usual. As far as Iraq is concerned, this country is too busy with its own problems and very well realizes that radical Kurds are a major headache for it. It was evidenced by recent events. Turkey the refore plays the role of the savior for Iraq too.

As regards the Syrian government…Although Bashar Assad does not love Turkey, he will keep silent because of the U.S. and Russia. Damask does not want the U.S. presence in the region. One of the reasons is that Washington-backed 70,000-strong army of terrorists pose a serious threat to Syria`s territorial integrity. Bashar Assad does not want his country to be split. The Russian factor plays a key role here because the emergence of an illegal state in Syria may wake up the nations living in Russia and boost Washington`s standing in the Middle East.

Turkey is about to launch probably one of the critical military operations in its modern history. Two points are vital here. The first is the military and security aspect. Ankara should prove the world that it is capable of ensuring its security. It is a fact that only a handful of countries are capable of this. The situation is worsened by the clash of interests of superpowers.

The second aspect is about the necessity for Turkey to demonstrate its ability to expand its political and military impact. The international political community has disregarded Turkey in the past hundred years. With the dedication of its leadership and eagerness of its people Turkey is now breaking this unfair trend. Turkey has recently been increasing its military might on its own, proving the world that it is capable of producing cutting-edge weapons. Turkey`s next goal is to prove that it is a force to be reckoned with at a global scale. We wish the brotherly country success!

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