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Is a new Turkish military operation on the horizon in northern Syria?

NES | Brussels | Available in Arabic


There will be a Turkish military operation. Those are the thoughts running through the minds of a large part of the population in northeastern Syria, because of the bitter experience that they had before each Turkish intervention, when statements and threats increased alongside diplomatic and security moves, with slight variations in context, before each Turkish operation.

Heber 7, a newspaper close to the Turkish government, cited sources as stating that "information was exchanged with the leaders of the national army factions regarding the strategy and tactics of the military operation, which will involve two main lines and 35,000 troops." This is exactly what happened, and reinforcements were sent to Idlib, which has been experiencing unprecedented tension since the outbreak of the Corona epidemic between Jabhat al-Nusra and other factions, as well as bombing attacks. Erdogan needs the Russian, and American green light, as well as European indifference on this issue and favorable economic drivers and domestic political conditions.

From the Russian perspective.

Following an 18-month hiatus, Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the twenty-ninth of September. Analysts interpreted it as a move to obtain permission for Russia to launch a new military operation against areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. The absence of a final press conference and the body language, even with the "diplomatic" smiles, cast doubt on any agreement between the two parties regarding North and East of Syria.

As part of Russia's deal, it is believed that it wants Turkey to withdraw from Idlib and allow Syrian troops to enter it, or at least control the M4 road linking Aleppo and Latakia in exchange for its green light. This means the Syrian army will enter Ariha, Mahmbel, and Jisr Al-Shughur. This will mean that Erdogan will have to abandon his factions in Idlib and its surroundings.

The 23rd division of the National Army allies of the Turkish occupation was bombed by a Russian warplane earlier this week, in Jindirs. This is not the first time that Russian warplanes have attacked Turkey's allied forces in recent weeks. However, Turkey is sending vehicles and soldiers to Idlib, which is seen by some as entering into the tension between the two allies, but it could also be high-level coordination and preparations for the seventeenth round of Astana talks.

From the American perspective.

Despite repeated assurances from the US administration that it would not withdraw from Syria and that it was committed to fighting ISIS and helping the Syrian Democratic Forces achieve stability, findings from these statements and the cordial relationship between the two parties indicate otherwise. US officials will not allow military action to take place, especially given ISIS activity that has erupted recently in Turkey's areas of control that has shaken their confidence in Turkey's intentions to fight terrorism.

The US administration is still recovering from its withdrawal from Afghanistan, and it is unlikely Turkey will be able to launch any military operation in any of its areas of influence in Syria, because that would put the US administration under pressure and shake confidence among its allies. In addition to the previously existing tensions between the United States and Turkey, as well as between Turkey and NATO due to its possession of S-400 missiles, which was revealed in the remarks made by NATO Secretary General On October 22 Stoltenberg said that NATO member countries possessing the Russian S-400 missile defense system is unacceptable.

From the European perspective.

There are still significant differences between Turkey and the European Union, which could explode at any moment, even after Erdogan retracted the expulsion of ambassadors from 10 countries that released a joint statement calling for the immediate release of businessman Osman Kavla. While tensions between the two parties are not new, the European Commission's statement indicates that the EU is unwilling to engage with Turkey until it complies with its commitments to promote democracy and human rights, which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government does not seem to be willing to comply with.

The largest economic partner of Turkey, Germany, is unable to protect Erdogan or help calm tempers due to the absence of a German government, which will likely take several weeks to form.

The economic situation.

The Turkish government claims that the economy is improving steadily, but high prices and widespread unemployment, as well as the collapse of the Turkish currency at 9.62 pounds to the dollar, contradict these official figures. This point indicates the difficulty of implementing a new military operation. Military operations are largely influenced by the economic factor, which determines their success or failure.

Turkey's political situation.

Currently, Turkey is experiencing a climate that is similar to that surrounding the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The party will receive only 11.4 percent of votes from younger generations, according to a poll conducted by ORC Research, known for its close relationship with the (AKP). (AKP) splinter groups, including Dawood Oglu and Ali Babajan, as well as the formation of independent parties opposing the (AKP) have intensified meetings in recent months to unite against the ruling party in the next presidential election. With the exception of both the Republican People's Party and the People's Democratic Party, which oppose the two-year extension of Turkish forces in Syria and Iraq, they have not agreed on a unified foreign policy to stop foreign interventions. By leveraging the parliamentary majority with the Nationalist Movement, his ally, Justice and Development Party (AKP) managed to pass the law through Parliament.

(AKP)popularity in Turkey is declining not only among youths, but also in general, where the most recent survey by Metropoll (Research and opinion polls) revealed that the ruling party might receive no more than 29.3 percent of votes in any forthcoming elections, compared to 42.56 percent during the 2018 elections.


A new Turkish military operation can be ruled out based on an analysis of Turkey's foreign relations and its internal economic and social condition, but it might also serve as one of the engines of this operation, which will help ease internal pressure on Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP), but it is a risky adventure that may bring about economic collapse and internal disintegration that might spark a civil war or a military coup. Conservative and hardline figures such as Erdogan have the potential to escalate irresponsibly.

Regardless of whether a military operation is conducted, the hard-liner national army factions continue to violate the rights of citizens of the occupied cities. By repeatedly bombing most of the towns and villages in the line of fire and by sending a flotilla of drones over north and eastern Syria, Turkey continues to violate the agreements it reached with Russia and the United States. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people, including residents of the entire region, will suffer a humanitarian catastrophe as a result of this. Russia and the United States must keep their commitments to the people of northeast Syria, take clear positions against new military actions, and prioritize implementing Resolution 2254.


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