Turkey’s struggle for survival with terrorism

OPINION: ÜSTÜN YÜKSEL

“War is the continuation of politics by other means.” Carl Von Clausewitz

There has always been competition between super powers to dominate the world order while emerging states struggle for their survival. One of the main strategies of gaining more power is going to war. Thus, states with great power cannot commit themselves to the pursuit of a peaceful world order. For instance, the USA has been active in war since World War II, including; Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and currently in Syria. Meanwhile, Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and currently in Syria as well. In short, the power of each great state determines their propensity for war. Although they are privileged to be the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, there has not been an everlasting peace in the world politics, especially among the great powers, because of the anarchic international system. An “anarchic international system” means that there is no central authority to oversee states and protect them from each other in case of conflicts. Thus, emerging states must be prepared to protect themselves from the great powers, because the current international system is based on a self-help system. Due to the variations in states power they possess, this capability determines and affects how states will behave, because of super power states unfinished competition for more power. In this regard, the current international system paves the way for great power states (the USA, the UK, France, Russia and China) to pursue more wealth in order to maximize their relative powers to dominate world politics, which serves their best interests. Meanwhile other states struggle for survival.

In this context, the current Syrian war which is happening on Turkey’s eastern border, poses a significant threat to Turkey’s national security and sovereignty. Thus, Turkey is extremely worried about its border security in the southern region. In this regard, Turkey has a legitimate concern with the terrorist groups of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and People’s Protection Units (YPG)- a Kurdish militia which is an extension of PKK. The PKK has already waged a decades-long armed fight against the Turkish state that killed tens of thousands of people. Therefore, in the self-help international system, Turkey has the right to defend itself from terrorists to ensure the survival of its state and sovereignty with the “Operation of Olive Branch” in Afrin – near the border in Turkey’s Hatay province. For this reason, Turkish military forces captured the city of Afrin in the northwest of Syria to secure and stabilize the region from terrorists. Moreover, Turkish Red Crescent and some other Turkish NGOs have provided and delivered humanitarian aid to the people in Afrin. Meanwhile, the USA supports the Kurdish terrorist groups (PYD, YPG) while Turkey is struggling with these terrorist groups in the course of the eight-year Syrian war for its national security. While the USA is focusing on “the US hegemony narrative” for its global image, Turkey is struggling to clear its Syrian border from the terrorism (PYD, YPG, PKK and ISIS), for its security and survival of a sovereign Turkish state, in this anarchic world order.

The map above shows the location for city of Afrin’s strategic importance for Turkey’s border security

 

CONCLUSION: Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin to clear the terrorist groups (PYD, YPG, PKK and ISIS) from the border in Turkey’s Hatay province to stabilize the region. In short, terrorism is bad for everyone in the word. For instance, the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 had profound effect on post 9/11 policies and regulations for shaping both American society and American foreign policy. Speaking in Congress after the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history, President Bush addressed the American people and the world that “… we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” Based on the President Bush’s speech, Turkey also has a right to defend itself from terrorists. Bush said that coalition partners would be called upon to back up their support with action “A coalition partner must do more than just express sympathy; a coalition partner must perform… But all nations, if they want to fight terror, must do something.” Turkey and the USA are allies since World War II. Therefore, Turkish state would like to see alliances on side, fighting together against the terrorists. The most important fact is that, Turkey is going to cope with these problems anyway for its survival. In this regard, whether Rex Tillerson or Mike Pompeo is the United States Secretary of state, the framework of Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch will not be changed or abandoned. The big picture is that Turkey has a right and is going to defend its land and sovereignty from the threats of the terrorists anyway.

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