Monday, March 5, 2018

Turkey Needs to Win Afrin Quickly Or Risk It’s Own Border Security

Turkey Needs to Win Afrin Quickly Or Risk It’s Own Border Security

“Turkey has been on a long overdue offensive  against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) group since 20 January.

Turkey aims to retake the city of Afrin and its surrounding climes, which would undoubtedly prove to be a game changer in northern Syria, and may even assist in the stabilisation of the last major rebel-held enclave in Idlib.

Turkey's advance has allowed it to secure its border from YPG presence all the way to Jarablus, which was snatched away from Islamic State (IS) extremists during Operation Euphrates Shield back in”
I’m omitting most of the information pertaining to the YPG , choosing to focus on what the Afrin operation means to Turkey’s border security. If anyone with more information on this subject wishes to offer up some related input please  feel free.

“Prior to the launch of Olive Branch, Russia made an offer to the YPG to transfer territory under its control back to the regime, perhaps with a future understanding about providing them with autonomy or some kind of federal system.

The YPG spurned the Russians, which was perhaps a costly error (for the YPG/PKK), as it gave Moscow an incentive to accommodate Turkey's plans"
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Turkey must take Afrin quickly
"Knowing that Turkey was eager to secure its border from any further YPG threat, and also sighting an opportunity to further undermine an already strained relationship between Ankara and Washington, Russia agreed to withdraw its forces from Afrin and to allow Turkish airpower to operate over the enclave.

It seems apparent that Moscow has decided to punish the YPG by allowing Turkey and its Syrian allies to pummel the Kurdish Marxists and threaten their very existence in north western Syria, which would then force them to agree to Russia's terms.

Following the YPG's loss of territory, including Rajo which lies on a major road leading to Afrin itself, it seems obvious that they would seek to secure Tell Rifaat to prevent the Afrin pocket from being sealed off on all sides.

Also, by allowing the regime into these territories, the YPG aims to convince Russia that it now has to lean on Turkey to get it to accept regime control over Afrin, something Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has suggested would be acceptable to Ankara.

However, the force concentration of Assad regime troops and allied militias appears to be small, and the YPG has indicated that it is not yet willing to cede control politically to the regime, which means Moscow is unlikely to restrain Turkey just yet.

It is in Turkey's interests to capture Afrin and commit more military resources - including an increase in the number of Turkish forces deployed - to speed up the process of taking Afrin.

Rather than the city being besieged within days, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month, it has now been a month and a half since the start of operations.

Turkey is rightly concerned about the domestic impact of losing too many soldiers, but without a rapid and decisive victory soon, the YPG may find a way to survive by conceding to Russian and Assad regime demands.

If this happens, Turkish citizens will not be safer, as the Syrian regime has a long history of aiding and abetting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a group considered terrorists by the United States, European Union and Turkey, and which Ankara insists is equivalent to the YPG.

Should the YPG become subsumed into the regime, Assad is unlikely to forget Turkey's support for the rebels and will be seeking revenge and to destabilise Turkey domestically.

This will mean an increased output in PKK attacks, and the YPG will be used as an auxiliary force alongside the plethora of pro-Iran militias to support the Syrian military in crushing the rebellion.

If Afrin is left in the hands of the regime, then Idlib too will be all but lost, and Turkey will have an extremely bitter regime looking to undermine and harm it right on its southern border, and in areas where there is already a high concentration of PKK/YPG activity.

Turkey is on the clock, and it must do everything it can to prevent the YPG coming to an accord with the regime, which will encourage Russia to call time on Olive Branch.
This would be almost as disastrous an outcome as losing the battle for Afrin altogether, and would have deadly consequences for Turkey for years to come"

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