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‘Operation Peace Spring’: Myths and truths

Oct 14,2019 - Last updated at Oct 14,2019

The Turkish Armed Forces started a counterterrorism operation beyond our borders called “Peace Spring” on October 9. The operation has clear objectives: To ensure our border security, neutralise terrorist elements associated with PKK/PYD/YPG and Daesh in the region, and, thus, save Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of these extremists.

Its target is well defined: Terrorist elements that pose a threat to Turkish citizens and to Turkish territory. It is not directed against “Syrian Kurds” as it is reflected in some media outlets. In fact, there are 350,000 Syrian Kurds among 3.6 million Syrian refugees who found shelter in Turkey.

Terrorism presents a vital risk and threat to Turkey’s national security. Our resolve to fight against this menace is firm. We give full support to all international efforts to this end. It is beyond doubt that PYD/YPG is the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK, which claimed the lives of nearly 40,000 Turkish citizens in the last three decades, and thus is listed as “terrorist organisation” by the United States, EU and many others.

Here are my simple questions to our allies: How fair is it to say that you understand the legitimate security concerns of Turkey, on one hand, and close an eye to the destructive actions of the PYD/YPG, hence arm it with heavy weaponry and ammunition, on the other? Who is your real ally in the fight against terrorism? Is it Turkey, which has played an instrumental role within NATO since 1952, or the PYD/YPD, which committed human rights violations, like recruiting child soldiers, intimidating dissidents, demographic engineering and forced conscription as recorded by international organisations?

Turkey’s stand towards Daesh has always been clear. As the only country engaging in chest-to-chest combat against Daesh in Syria through “Operation Euphrate Shield” in 2017, the Turkish Armed Forces eliminated more than 3,000 elements of this terrorist organisation. Having also successfully concluded “Operation Olive Branch” in 2018, Turkey cleared a field of over 4,000 km2 from Daesh and PYD/YPG, allowing more than 360,000 Syrians to return to their homes in this area.

As has been the case in its previous counter-terrorism operations, Turkey’s response in this third counter-terrorism operation will be proportionate, measured and responsible. All precautions are taken to avoid collateral damage to the civilian population. Protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure is our top priority. As a matter of fact, it is Turkey that lost, since October 9, at least eight civilian citizens by the hostile attacks of PYD/YPG, which also killed a nine-month-old Syrian baby.

Turkey has no plans whatsoever to modify the demographic structure in the operation area. To the contrary, this counterterror operation is intended also to facilitate the return of Syrians who had been displaced due to acts of PYD/YPG amounting to crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing. Turkey’s counter-terrorism efforts in Syria will also contribute to the territorial integrity and unity of Syria by disrupting separatist agendas.

Turkey’s strong commitment to finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria through a genuine political transition as outlined in the Geneva Communiqué and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 remains intact.

Turkey and Jordan are strong partners in the Middle East. Shared history, common culture and geographic proximity bind us together. Our relationship is institutional and multi-faceted. There is a clear intention on both sides to deepen and broaden it.

In our region, the two countries face common challenges that require common solutions. Turkish and Jordanian people deserve to live in a safe and secure region free from conflict and chaos. Syria is our common neighbour. Our countries were affected negatively from devastating outcomes of this eight-year conflict. We both suffered from terrorism, we both have to deal with complex problems of millions of Syrian refugees, we both wish to bring a political solution to this crisis and we both seek now alternative trade routes.

The oldest and simplest justification for government is as protector: Protecting its citizens from violence. Let me stress that this is exactly what the Turkish government is doing with “Operation Peace Spring”. Even more. And we have every right to expect our friends and allies to support Turkey in its rebuilding and stabilisation efforts.

 

The writer is the Turkish ambassador in Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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