Why Turkey has laid down “the Shield of the Euphrates”

Why Turkey has laid down “the Shield of the Euphrates”

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The Turkish military equipment in Aleppo

Photo: Khalil Ashawi / Reuters

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Turkey concluded seven months of operation “shield of the Euphrates” in Northern Syria. On Turkey’s decision was influenced by the growing support of the Kurds on the part of Russia and the United States, Ankara can not go to war against them, but he wants to leave himself room for maneuver, experts explain

After seven months of occurrence the evening of 29 March, Turkey announced the conclusion of its “operation Shield of the Euphrates” in the North-West of Syria. The decision was announced on the national security Council (NSC) of Turkey.

“From now on, if we start to take any measures in case of threat to our security or in the framework of confrontation with LIH (banned terrorist group. — RBC), it will be a new operation, — explained the Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yildirim in an interview with NTV channel. — This means “shield of the Euphrates” has been completed and any new operation will be called differently”. Do you have plans for Turkey to withdraw its troops from Syria, the Turkish Prime Minister said.

The goal is not reached

A military operation in Northern Syria, Ankara has begun on 24 August, 2016: Turkish tanks entered Syrian territory in the area of Jerablus — the border city located on the Euphrates river. Later Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the operation against the Islamists of ISIL and troops of the Syrian Kurds. Ankara believes the Kurdish terrorist organizations and puts them on a par with ISIS, what Erdogan said during his recent visit to Moscow in early March. The main stated purpose of the operation “shield of the Euphrates” was to ensure the safety of Turkish territory, Stripping the Syrian border areas and from the Islamists, and Kurdish groups. Ankara claimed that these territories to Turkey is the flow of refugees and smuggled weapons; immigrants from Syria, the Turkish authorities were accused of organizing terrorist acts. Damascus invasion of their territory condemned.

However, during the operation, her tasks were varied. In the early days, the press Secretary of the Turkish President Ibrahim Kalin , arguedthat the challenge to release of militants Jerablus, and later al-Bab, the largest city in ISIS controlled the isthmus. By October of last year the Turks and allied forces “Free Syrian army” (FSA) reached El-Baba, but to take the city it was only by the end of February.

During the siege of El-Baba assured Ankara that the next target of the operation is the “capital” of raqqa ISIL and Kurdish-controlled Manbij. 13 February of this said Erdogan. However, the decline of the El-Baba, two weeks later, coincided with the onset of the Syrian army, which virtually cut off the Pro-Turkish forces the road to Raqqa. After that, Ankara has concentrated on the grip controlled by the Kurds Manuja to take control of the entire West Bank of the Euphrates and to create a security zone. “Turkey is creating a buffer 90-kilometer zone. Once Manbij will be taken, Turkey will stop its operations in Syria,” — said on 27 February, the Advisor to Erdogan Ilnur Cevik.

However, already on March 2 the Syrian Kurds in coordination with Moscow lost the front in the area Manuja government troops, thereby blocking the start of the attack of the Turkish and allied forces on the position of the Kurds. Between Russia and Turkey agreements on the prevention of the collision of forces “Shield of the Euphrates” the army of Bashar al-Assad.

Hurriyet reported that during operations have killed “more than 70” of the Turkish military. Istanbul news Agency DNA reported 71 dead. From the Union of the Turks of the SSA, according to the Syrian monitoring centre for human rights, in the course of the operation was lost 515 men. According to official data of the Russian Ministry of defense, in Syria since the beginning of operation in the fall of 2015 died 28 Russian soldiers.



The Turkish military equipment in the Syrian city of Ayn al-Arab

Photo: Mursel Coban / Depo Photos / AP

To consolidate the achievements

In conditions when the movement of troops in the main areas were blocked, the national security service of Turkey announced the “successful completion” of the operation. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet on March 29, he wrote that the operation was successful, as we managed to prevent the connection of two controlled Kurdish areas, which could unite into one continuous strip along the Syrian-Turkish border.

Fight with the Kurds and take Manuja, not the liberation of Raqqa, was the real purpose of the “Shield of the Euphrates,” says researcher of the Institute of Oriental studies Ilshat Saitov. Now President Erdogan was held hostage by domestic and foreign political situation. Its primary goal — victory in a referendum on April 16, said the Saitov. Voted on the constitutional amendments will allow to transform Turkey from a parliamentary Republic into a presidential one. According to the survey, Turkish society in relation to the amendments divided in half and the chances of Erdogan on promoting their agenda rather shaky. The main means of mobilizing supporters, explained RBC Saitov is the search for external enemies — primarily it is the Kurds, who, however, have the support of USA and Russia. “Probably, Erdogan exchanged apologize for downed in 2015, the Russian su-24 and non-interference in the siege of Aleppo to save El Baba and the restoration of relations with Russia, — said the Saitov. In the course of the dialogue he planned to negotiate and Manbij, but judging by the fact that the operation is now “completed successfully”, Moscow he failed to convince”.

Ankara can not continue to pursue its goals in Syria, as it is contrary to the policy at the same time two world powers, Russia and the US supporting the Kurds, told RBC Director of the Turkish Institute for energy market and policy (EPPEN) Volkan Ozdemir. This is particularly evident on the background of the messages about the possible establishment of a Russian military base in the Kurdish controlled area of North-West Syria. “But this does not mean that Turkey abandoned plans to clear Syria of Kurdish terrorists in the long run,” said Ozdemir.

The actions of Turkey and Russia in Syria orientalist Timur Akhmetov calls “managed competition” — where the parties deliberately avoided confrontation, but not willing to give up their ambitions and interests. In these circumstances, Akhmetov expects the Turkish forces from the occupied areas of Syria are not be — changed is only the format of their presence “towards the development of military and administrative capacity of the allied forces.”

Thursday, March 30, the Minister of foreign Affairs of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara held talks with his American colleague Rex Tillerson. According to Secretary of state, in the course of the conversation he stressed that Turkey is the main partner States in the fight against ISIS, and the negotiations were aimed at creating safe zones in Syria, which could accommodate the refugees.

With the participation of Pavel Koshkin