Turkey’s Targets, Interests in Possible Attack on North Syria

Strategic Council Online - Interview: An expert on international affairs considered the growing domestic criticism of Erdogan’s policies as an important factor in putting nationalist and emotional issues on the agenda, such as attack on Kurdish armed groups in north Syria, adding: From the internal point of view, the Turkish president needs to carry out military operations on the Syrian soil, but such attack could slow down or disrupt the process of negotiations of the Syrian groups on drafting the constitution.

Rahman Ghahremanpour, speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, referred to some published reports that Turkey is ready to conduct two military operations in Syria without prior notice, and said one of the important issues raised in Erdogan’s meeting with Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit was the Turkish military attack on north Syria, adding: James Jeffrey, the former US Special Representative for Syria, has stated that the US did not agree with the Turkish attack on north Syria.

Passive US position

At the same time, he added: But the statements of Erdogan and some other people indicate that although the United States did not agree, it did not oppose either and took a passive position. In fact, it seems that such a case does not matter much for the US.

The expert on international affairs, recalling that the United States has traditionally sided with the Kurds in the Middle East, said: Since 2019, when Trump announced his intention to leave Syria, it became clear that US support for the Kurds was also declining. At the same time, some Democrats demanded that the United States not withdraw from Syria, and Trump temporarily halted the withdrawal of US troops from the Kurdish areas of Syria; however, it became clear that the long-term policy of the United States is not to stay in the Kurdish regions of Syria.

Possibility of Turkish military operation

Ghahremanpour, stating that on the sidelines of the G20 summit, the United States neither gave the green light to Turkey, nor did it have any serious opposition, or its opposition was very passive, continued: It was said that the country intended to start its operation on November 2; but in his recent remarks, Erdogan did not speak decisively in this regard, saying only that he would take whatever measure necessary, so it is not clear whether this military action is definite or not.

At the same time, he said: Given the developments that have taken place in Syria and given that the government of that country is gradually exercising its sovereignty over the whole of Syria, such military action of Turkey this time, more than before, has faced international opposition.

Referring to the expression of interest of some Arab countries to strengthen and expand relations with Syria and increase in the cost of any military action against Syria by Turkey, the international affairs analyst noted: Erdogan seems to need this military action internally, because criticism against him and his government’s economic policies has risen sharply in the past two months, and a recent poll showed that if Erdogan’s opponents and rivals could get united they could defeat him in the next presidential elections.

Ghahremanpour continued: On the other hand; the devaluation of lira against dollar and 20 percent inflation and political interferences in the central bank’s policies have drawn a great deal of criticism of the Turkish president; while, it should be borne in mind that Biden and leaders of European countries are keenly looking for an opportunity to weaken Erdogan and remove him from the scene of Turkish politics.

He said: In such circumstances, Erdogan has usually shown that in order to manage public opinion, and in particular his supporters, he is trying to put a nationalist and emotional issue on the agenda, such as attacking Kurdish armed groups. In the two operations “Shield of the Euphrates” and “Claw”, we witnessed that with the beginning of such operation, even his opponents inside, cautiously criticized the operations and considered it in favor of Turkish security.

The international affairs analyst added that the operation that Turkey intends to carry out in Syria is an attempt to cut off the Kurds in the east and west of Syria and form a continuous strip in the north of Syria and create a buffer zone between the Kurds in Syria and Turkey. This measure strengthens nationalist sentiments at the level of public opinion and to some extent increases support for Erdogan.

 

Turkey’s concern about Russia-US reaction

Ghahremanpour, referring to the news about deployment of Russian fighters to areas of Hasakah in northeast Syria, simultaneously with the Turkish troops lining up in those areas, continued: Although Erdogan, like Putin, in some cases acts fearlessly, he is a cautious politician and takes action when he is sure that he will not face with a serious reaction from Russia and the United States. So if he concludes that he will not face a sharp reaction from Russia and the United States, he will probably carry out the operations. He is evaluating reactions and positions these days.

He further referred to the Syrian military moves to maintain its territorial integrity and efforts to withdraw Turkish troops from its territory and said: According to the agreement that Syria has made with the Syrian Kurdish Defense Units, the security of the northern regions has been entrusted to this group. Of course, those units are not militarily capable of confronting the Turkish army, and there is a kind of military imbalance.

Ghahremanpour said: Turkey may suffer some casualties in such possible operations; as in recent days, it was faced with the firing of rockets from Kurdish areas, killing two Turkish soldiers; but in general, as we saw in Operation Euphrates Shield and Claw, neither the government of Syria nor the Kurdish People’s Units alone can stand against Turkey. For this reason, Turkey seeks to neutralize protests and reactions of the United States and Russia. Of course, in the international arena, Turkey will also face protests, because this attack in the current situation could slow down and disrupt the process of negotiations between the Syrian groups on t drafting of the constitution.

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