The military operation called “Operation Euphrates Shield” that Ankara has launched in Jarabulus and in Manbij by crossing the Syrian border should not be seen as a sudden development.
For a long time, Turkey had kept a close eye on the developments near its borders, spoke out about the structuring of the terrorist organizations and constantly voiced the need for the establishment of a buffer zone along its borders with Syria. Meanwhile, the US continued to openly arm the YPG — a terrorist outfit with links to the PKK — and deploy them near the Turkish borders on one hand, while reassuring Turkey about the YPG and ignoring Ankara’s just concerns. The YPG’s crossing over the west of Euphrates necessitated the execution of the Operation Euphrates Shield that had been on the agenda for a long time.
Operation Euphrates Shield had been actually on the agenda since 2012. The first attempt was suspended due to the terrorist attacks in the southeast of Turkey, and the second attempt was about to be executed when the warplane crisis with Russia arose. Especially the fact that only trustworthy personnel remained in the Turkish Armed Forces following the July 15 coup attempt is what rendered this operation more efficient. Furthermore, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the said operation continues by the mutual consent of Turkey, Russia and the US that are on the same page about “preserving the territorial integrity of Syria.”
In one of our previous articles, we stated that strengthening Ankara-Moscow ties was necessary for a permanent solution in Syria. And we have just begun to see its effects. The operation, which is carried out in coordination with Russia, aims to eliminate the threat of Syria’s disintegration and to create a buffer zone to solve the refugee problem. And regarding the future of Syria, the Turkish side made the statement “Assad may be addressed as a party during the transition period, but it is up for the people of Syria to decide the future of Syria.” At this point, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov’s statement “the Damascus administration is ready to meet with the opposition” is of importance. Under these circumstances, through the consensus of Turkey, Russia and the US, preserving the integrity of Syria and commencement of peace talks seem quite probable, coming one step closer to the solution.
We are against any military operation that put people’s lives at risk. We always favor diplomacy, mutual negotiations and education in resolving conflicts. Contrary to the claims of certain media outlets, no civilians were killed during these operations. This is an organized propaganda campaign and psychological warfare waged by certain pro-PKK elements within the media. These media outlets are unable to provide any evidence to substantiate their absurd claims. The only images featured in the press were of the Syrian people welcoming the Turkish army with open arms and Turkish soldiers distributing aid among them.
However, the information that the PKK’s Syria branch, the YPG taking up positions in civilians’ houses and getting ready to use civilians as human shields especially during the operations carried out in Manbij is among the latest information. As a matter of fact, this is a picture we, the Turkish people, know all too well. The PKK has been committing such crimes in the southeast Turkey for many years, using innocent civilians as human shields. The Turkish army is accustomed to such tactics and it knows how to handle such situations.
Turkey is definitely obliged to cleanse its borders of all kinds of terrorist elements. However, because of the YPG’s direct affiliation with the PKK, the issue of YPG has become an entirely domestic matter for Turkey. The YPG cadres and arms perpetrate the majority of the terrorist attacks within Turkey. This is why President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement, “The operations will continue until the YPG no longer poses a threat for our citizens” is meaningful. The Northern Syria Corridor the YPG seeks to create through the support of the US will never be permitted.
Let’s give those who do not realize the gravity of the PYD threat a reminder: The sole aim of the PKK and its Syrian branch, the PYD/YPG is to destroy the territorial integrity of Syria, Turkey and Iraq, tear these countries apart, and declare a Stalinist regime in the region by sacrificing the Kurdish people as well. Perhaps for the first time in history, the US provides such an extensive support to the communists it has struggled against for years, and at the moment, has been forced to withdraw this support due to Turkey’s determination. The PKK’s progress will have catastrophic consequences not only for the said countries but also for the entire Middle East, Russia, Europe and even the US. We hope that this Turkish move in Syria will produce a favorable outcome and help the countries of the region better realize this danger. While you are reading this article, various phases of the Operation Euphrates Shield will have been probably carried out. We hope that the danger in the region will be obviated without casualty, an opportunity to establish a buffer zone on the border will arise, and concrete steps will be taken to achieve permanent peace in Syria.
Adnan Oktar's piece in Arab News: