Syria, the most strategic country in the Middle East, has been on the global agenda for the last five years due to its bloody civil war. In regards to the 911 kilometer long border with Syria, Turkey is probably the country that is most affected by this conflict. On August 24, the Turkish Armed Forces initiated an aerial and over-land operation called “Euphrates Shield” taking the city of Jarabulus from ISIS and settling the Syrian opposition forces. The Turkish government has been planning to send troops to Syria for a while to create a “buffer zone” for refugees in the south of Turkish-Syrian border, but they did not as there were some disagreements within the military. However, the operation occurred right after Turkey’s failed coup attempt, which triggered the normalization with Russia and Iran’s backing this cooperation.
First, I’d like to point out that as a personal view, I am completely against any operation that may be a threat to the lives of the innocent civilians and strongly believe the solution to be always through diplomacy and conversation. When we consider the timing of “Euphrates Shield”, it is very likely to speak of other functions besides dismissing the threat of ISIS: To take a big step vis a vis the Syrian crisis and to prevent the PYD and its affiliates from settling west of the Euphrates River. Turkish officials have declared the area west of the Euphrates as their red line and have pledged to prevent the YPG from crossing this line. The YPG’s recent operation in the town of Manbij, which is only 38 kilometers away from Jarabulus and located on the west bank of the Euphrates disturbed Turkish officials and they are expressing their desire for their withdrawal from that region. As of Monday, Syrian opposition forces took back nine villages around Manbij from the YPG. Control over this town, consisting mostly of Arabs, would permit the YPG forces to push towards a plan to connect Kurdish-controlled areas of the eastern parts of Syria with a Kurdish enclave in its west. This is also a clear indication that Turkey is on the side of protecting the unitary structure of the Syrian state and to prevent a Kurdish quasi-state from emerging on its border, which would be a threat to Turkey’s integrity, as well. Assad’s subsequent bombing the YPG forces is also an indication of his policy change in favor of Turkey.
Turkey’s policy change in Syria definitely has to do with the new links with Russia and Iran. It is not hard to anticipate that a peaceful solution would be very likely come out of this alliance even though they have many opposing views on this crisis. The common view of this nexus is to end the Syrian conflict, as Syria has the most significant strategic position in the region. Throughout history, many empires such as the Ottomans, the French and the British have fought for Syria. For example, the first written agreement in the world - the Treaty of Kadesh - also focused on Syria. Just as the security of Anatolia starts with Syria, so does the security of Egypt, Palestine and Jerusalem
. As we can see in the pages history, Syria still holds its important position within the region.
There has been a very intense series of meetings for Turkey following the failed coup attempt in regards to the new links with the Russian Federation and Iran. First, the Prime Minister of Georgia and then the President of Kazakhstan came to Turkey, then President Erdogan made his historic visit to St. Petersburg to meet with President Putin for the first time after the plane crisis at the end of last year. Prior to this meeting, President Putin had a meeting in Baku with President Rouhani and President Aliyev. The top diplomat of Iran, Javad Zarif, made his first official meeting to Ankara after the coup attempt and had very fruitful negotiations with President Erdogan and Prime Minister Yildirim, along with his counterpart Foreign Minister Cavusoglu. After one week, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu paid a surprise visit to Tehran on his way to India. In addition to these, President Putin and President Erdogan have decided to meet in China on September 5. We have started to see the ramifications of these official meetings quite swiftly.
As one consequence, establishing a buffer zone on the Turkish-Syrian border again came to the agenda. Creating a buffer zone is highly significant and the Turkish government has mentioned its desire for this for the longest time. However, the United States has insistently declined the idea of safe zone, as it did not seem to fit its interests in the region. Besides, I also have touched on its necessity many times during my live TV programs from the beginning of the crisis. It is very obvious that one of the advantages of having a buffer zone in the region, along with many others, is that it is very likely to be a solution to the refugee crisis, which has turned out to be a global problem. A buffer zone will represent a place where millions can live in peace and security. With the nexus of Iran, Russia and Turkey, this buffer zone is about to come to life soon. According to their plan, the refugees will be able to relocate in this zone for the next two years
With the new strong alliance between Russia-Iran-Turkey, the countries decided to focus on the common grounds to find the quickest way to solution in Syrian crisis. They are also making some policy shifts to help end this war. They all agreed on the integrity of the Syrian land and a transitional government without obliging Assad to leave. In addition, it is very likely to negotiate and continue with the Geneva talks with the Damascus government via Russia and Iran. As more good news, Russia and Turkey have decided on a common humanitarian aid policy in Aleppo and I really hope to this cooperation continues in other areas, as well.
What the Middle East needs the most is strong alliances based on friendship and solidarity. This region has experienced countries in conflict with one another for a long time. Now, it is time to end the enmity and hatred and to start new friendships and alliances for the sake of every person inhabiting in the region. The peoples in the region have more in common than they do reasons for conflict.
Adnan Oktar's piece in The Daily Star: