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Turkish military intervention in Syria — why now?

Aug 02,2015 - Last updated at Aug 02,2015

The Turkish military intervention against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and Daesh marks a new turning point in the Syrian crisis. Undeniably, many questions could be raised regarding the timing and the real objectives of this move. 

Turkey has played a major role in aggravating the Syrian crisis on both logistic and political levels. Therefore, many factors could have possibly pushed Turkey to finally take this initiative, such as the international pressure on Ankara due to its ambiguous position towards the terrorist groups fighting in Syria. 

Moreover, the transference in the international community’s priorities has put the issue of combating Daesh on the top of the global security agenda. Other factors may include the Iranian nuclear deal, which pushed a country like Turkey to be present in the international coalition to avoid any possible political isolation. Also, the current map of political power inside Turkey — after the latest elections — might have pushed the Justice and Development Party to move forward and make use of such a step politically.

However, the major reason behind the Turkish intervention might be related to Ankara’s goal to eliminate any possibility of establishing a Kurdish state and this can be achieved by launching war against Daesh and the PKK.

Turkey’s recent harmony with the international coalition aims to secure the country’s pragmatic interests, not just in fighting the PKK but also in being a part of establishing the so called “Secure Zone” in northern Syria. This action would give Ankara a strategic plan to use in any future political resolution for the Syrian crisis.

As the US never backed the Turkish proposal of establishing a “No Fly Zone”, the new proposal of a secure zone seems to be politically interesting for Ankara. The zone is an area that has no Daesh presence, yet — at the same time — should be filled with Syrian protagonists, moderate opposition figures, social police members trained in Turkey or even humanitarian corridors to resettle Syrian refugees. This means, consequently, that who controls this secure zone would be deeply involved with the Syrian political solution. 

Nevertheless, the security consequences of the Turkish move will increase the risk level for the internal Turkish scene, not only from Daesh but also from the PKK that is involved in fighting the terror group and at the same time has a wide network inside Turkey. 

From a Syrian perspective, Damascus has sent several messages of its inclination to be part of any anti-terror coalition. Likewise, in his latest speech, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad acknowledged the lack of manpower in the Syrian army. This can be explicated as a defence for the failure of having full control over some regions in Syria, or even as a justification for the ineffectiveness of dealing with the Turkish intervention and the idea of a safe zone. 

Thus far, this can be seen as a message to the international community that the risk of the Syrian army collapsing becomes higher. This was always considered a catastrophe for the international community and the US administration, which does not want to repeat the mistake of Iraq. Correspondingly, anymore pressure would generate problems that seem hard to be controlled or resolved.


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