The president of Turkey has made the bold statement that the country of Turkey was prepared to launch a major military operation on the Syrian cities of Afrin and Manbij within a week. This threat was made under the pretense that the Kurdish forces, SDF (Syrian Democratic forces), had until that time to withdraw all of their forces from those areas. It’s not a surprising move on Erdogan’s part and is in-line with the majority of his power plays and associated threats.
The region has been contested by the Kurds and Turkey since they became neighbors. Now that the Islamic State is finished, Erdogan has a chance to take action. A lot has changed since IS rose to power and the SDF have become a highly-trained, organized and well-equipped military force. If the Turkish military does in fact make a play for the land they will be in for a hard fight even if no other nations decide to get involved.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the bold declaration, “If the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, we will destroy it,” amidst an enthusiastic speech at his associated political party’s provincial congress, according to the state-sponsored Anadolu Agency news.
The president has also declared on multiple occasions that he will not tolerate a “terror corridor” along the southern Turkish border. The terror Erdogan is referring to is the various Kurdish groups in the north quarter of Syria, such as the YPG, YPJ and PYD. All of them are affiliated with the PKK, a NATO-declared terrorist group dedicated to the liberation of Kurdish territories from Turkish occupation and control.
The Turkish President also expressed his dissatisfaction with the United States for its continued relationship with and the support of the Kurdish forces in Syria under the guise of the SDF, an umbrella organization that encompasses the various parties and a key ally to the coalition forces operating in Syria.
In response, Turkey was warned by various Rojava (Syrian Kurdish territory) government officals that it should not stir up trouble and that, “The Kurdish people will rise up as a whole. It will be total warfare,” according to former PYD president, Saleh Moslem, and current foreign relations officer for TEV-DEM (the Movement for a Democratic Society).
Featured image of SDF personnel carrier courtesy of Wikipedia.