Turkey’s Afrin Operation and Russia
Turkey initiated the Operation Olive Branch in Afrin canton immediately after the Operation Euphrates Shield and Idlib accomplished at very successful level in order to struggle with the terrorist organizations in the region and provide security and protection within his borders by referring his right of self-defense determined in Article 51 of UN Charter.
As a matter of fact, the triggering factor of the operation is the Russian attack marching from southern part of Idlib where Turkey set up some de-conflict zones to the norther side of Idlib for the sake of removing the radical extremist groups. This movement was perceived as a threat by the US and Pentagon and they rapidly declared to establish a regular army which was composed of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). This declaration made Turkey nervous as expressed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: “Unilateral actions by the US in Syria have infuriated Turkey. Either it misunderstands the different dynamics in Syria or engages in deliberate provocation. It is using Kurds [in reference to YPG militants] to establish control over Syria’s border with Turkey. The US has embarked on the creation of alternative authorities in large parts of Syrian territory. Washington supplies modern arms to groups that cooperate with them, especially the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is largely dominated by the YPG (the People’s Protection Units)”.
However, the collaboration of Trump’s administration with the terrorist organizations instead of allied states, the uncertainty arisen from the Obama’s strategic patience, the containment of Turkey by the instability producing actors, the evacuation of DAESH militants from Raqqa with cooperation of the US and YPG, Washington’s long-term plans with the YPG apart from the fight against the DEASH, and the settlement issue of Syrian immigrants living in Turkey within their own regions were the overriding parameters why Turkey initiated this operation. The most importantly, the primary priority of Turkey was to protect his border security with Syria which prolongs more than 900 kilometers by removing the Terror Corridor which contains along with these frontiers to provide his national security and territorial integrity and to prevent the isolation of Turkey from the rest of the Middle East.
In this context, Afrin canton was crucial both in symbolic and security respects for Turkey because Afrin was envisaged as the capital city of the designed so-called Kurdish state which has access to the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, the intended operation to Munbij which is located on the western side of Euphrates could be possible over Afrin. In addition, because the air control of Afrin provided by Russia, this operation would give the opportunity to test the existing relations between this two allies. More vehemently, Turkey aims to contain the YPG and limit its maximalist objectives by targeting the YPG and damaging it militarily because of its terrorist activities in his borders. Nevertheless, there is difference of opinion concerning the status of the PYD, even among Turkey’s NATO allies. Therefore, Ankara can feel diplomatic pressure to halt operation and the direct or indirect confrontation with the US and the YPG’s use of civilian shields in urban warfare can make the operation riskier. Fortunately both Turkey and the FSA (Free Syrian Army) units are more ready to confront the YPG in comparison with Operation Euphrates Shield and Idlib.
Comprehending Turkey’s positions in building a consensus about the futuristic perspective of Syria in line with Afrin Operation, it is necessary to analyze the wrist wresting of the U.S. and Russia over the ongoing Syrian civil war by comparing their approaches towards the YPG, Turkey and parties in Syria. In this context, it is to bear in mind that Turkey is crucial for Russia thanks to his membership to NATO. However, the Russian fear of deception by NATO once again after the example of Libya and other stages of Arab Spring stimulated Russia to be so determinant and decisive on the Syrian issue. Thus, Russia deemed to fracture the NATO alliance and contain it by collaborating with Turkey as well as extending his zone of influence unimaginably. Therefore, Russia fired the missile to Syria from the Caspian Sea base in order to show off his widespread zone of influence which was gained because of the gap created by Obama and Trump’s clumsy policies.
The most important expectation of Russia is to become permanent in the eastern part of the Mediterranean with their bases located in Latakia and Tartus. So to speak, Syria should be the ‘Israel of Russia’. Another expectation is to exterminate all radical extremist groups in Idlib which can be threat for him in the future. By the way, Russia intends to force Turkey to have a contact with the existing Syrian regime (Assad), to detract Turkey from the U.S. drastically, to bear the cost of new eventual immigrants to Turkey, and to contain both NATO and Turkey in geopolitical level. On the other hand, the U.S. targets to confront Turkey and Russia by preventing or impeding Turkey’s activities to establish the observation plots in Idlib which is vitally significant for Russian policies.
For the time being, the territories where the U.S. invaded in Syria corresponds the thirty percent of all lands of Syria, but this occupied region had 50 percent of his all energy resources and this underground treasure should change hands over YPG militants. The aim of the U. S. being in Syria is to take hold of almost all energy resources of the region; leave an elusive and volatile border for Turkey to create so persistent security problem that it will be perceived as a matter of life and death or the issue of survival. On the other hand, the confinement of Iran within the region, the Syria’s fightback to pose a threat for Israel’s security, maintain the existing chaos persistently by complicating the local and regional problems, and strengthen the hands of his allies in the Gulf by destabilizing the regional states and …