Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

The Swamp of The Turkish Syria Invasion

The Swamp of The Turkish Syria Invasion

Friday, 11 October, 2019 - 07:15
Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The strategy adopted by the Turkish government in all its policies is perhaps to hide the real goals behind its actions. This is how it conducted a military operation in northern Syria under a pretext that is almost impossible to achieve, namely, “the return of refugees” and the establishment of a “security zone.” The real objectives are completely different; they are not related whatsoever to the alleged return.

The only truth is that what happened was a Turkish military invasion of Syrian territory, at the sight of the world, is a clear violation of the basic rules of international law.

Even if we assume that the Turkish operation succeeds in securing the return of Arab refugees, the Syrian issue will be further complicated by the risk of ethnic cleansing and a dramatic demographic change, with the policy of expelling the Kurds from their areas where they lived for hundreds of years, and resettling citizens from different regions on lands other than their own.

Then, undoubtedly, we will be facing a new disaster, which will further confuse the blurry scene and prolong the war in Syria.

Politically, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to be in his frailest condition. The internal complexities he faces, and the lingering divisions within the Justice and Development Party, seem not enough, as he is now confronting the whole world, which, from the first minutes, condemned his country’s intervention in Syria.

Economically, Erdogan is confused with persistent facts that haunt him day and night: the lira is collapsing, the government debt is increasing, sanctions are exhausting his country, and military spending is burdening the economy, while the military is dealing with difficult and complicated options.

No one knows for how long the military operation will continue, and what consequences it will bring about in an area full of armed groups, not to mention that the Kurds will not just be watching the operation to uproot them and drive them out of their homeland.

Those, who had the upper hand in the expulsion of ISIS and the detention of thousands of its members, suddenly found themselves under the weight of a foreign military invasion targeting them and describing them all as “terrorists”.

Needless to say, thousands of ISIS members, under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, had entered Syria from the Turkish border gate. Moreover, around 18,000 other ISIS fighters hiding in the region were now allowed to re-emerge. We should imagine how Turkey would deal with them if they controlled their positions.

It is true that the vague position of US President Donald Trump, who withdrew his troops from northern Syria in a clear implicit signal, helped Erdogan make his decision to invade the country; however, we must bear in mind that all US institutions oppose the Turkish aggression, and President Trump’s move finds support from neither the Congress’ Republicans and Democrats, nor the Pentagon.

We should pay attention here that once the United States decides to return to support the Kurds, which is a probability, Turkey will be the first prey, entangled in what it cannot withstand. It will have invaded Syria on the beat of Erdogan’s enthusiastic speeches, but it certainly would not be able to get out of the swamp into which it swiftly fell.

Its misleading headlines used to describe its military operations – such as the “olive branch” and the “peace spring” - will be ineffective, because what happened is unquestionably a blatant Turkish invasion and an occupation of Arab lands. Its subsequent political and military tax on Turkey and its president will be exorbitant.

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks