News Analysis |
After securing a landslide majority of 53% of the casted votes, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reelected into the office. Erdogan’s victory paves the way for another five-year term. Under the new constitution, he could serve a further term from 2023 up until 2028. In his first address after securing the presidency, he announced that Turkish armed forces will penetrate further into Syria to “liberate” more territory. Speaking to supporters from the balcony of his ruling AK Party’s headquarters in Ankara, Erdogan said Turkey would also act more decisively against terrorist organizations.
Turkish security forces moved further into the Afrin region of Syria to carry out Operation Olive Branch against YPG, a Kurd militant group. Turkey deems YPG, which roughly translates into “Peoples Protection Group” in English, as a threat to its national security. YPG has acted as a U.S proxy in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It was due to their successful belligerence along with air support from United States Air Force that ISIS was uprooted and forced to flee.
Now that ISIS is no more a threat to Kurds, Turkey believes that YPG contingents who have excelled in the art of warfare over the years and have been getting weapons and support from the United States of America are going to act as foreign aides to the Kurds living in Turkey. They have been protesting for a combined and autonomous Kurdish state, the adjoining region which constitutes part of Turkey as well as Syria.
Assad was speaking after Damascus rejected the presence of Turkish and US forces around Manbij, a day after soldiers of the two countries began patrolling the area.
On 20th January, in collaboration with the Free Syrian Army Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in order to clear the PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin. According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty. The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its right of self-defense under the UN Charter and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity.
Read more: Erdogan seeks to sway Turkey voters in Kurdish heartland
On a statement made on Monday, the Turkish General Staff announced that a total of 1,641 PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been neutralized since the beginning of the operation. In addition, it was announced that the Free Syrian Army and the Turkish Armed Forces liberated three more villages from the control of terrorists in Afrin. “These results show we will continue to liberate Syrian lands and open the way for our guests in our country to return home safely,” Erdogan said in an election victory speech on Monday, referring to the Syrian refugees.
The United States has a military base in Manbij, next checkpoint of Turkish forces in their operation against the Kurds. It was anticipated that it might result in the direct confrontation of Turkish and U.S troops, but on Last Monday, Turkish troops reached the outskirts of Manbij after striking a deal with the US to remove Washington-backed Kurdish militants from the area.
Now that ISIS is no more a threat to Kurds, Turkey believes that YPG contingents who have excelled in the art of warfare over the years and have been getting weapons and support from the United States of America are going to act as foreign aides to the Kurds living in Turkey.
On Sunday, President Bashar al-Assad said the Syrian army will regain control of the country’s north by force if US-Turkey backed militants refuse to surrender. Assad was speaking after Damascus rejected the presence of Turkish and US forces around Manbij, a day after soldiers of the two countries began patrolling the area.
Read more: Erdogan criticized West for not supporting Turkey’s offensive in Afrin
“We have chosen two paths: the first and most important one is reconciliation. The second path is to attack terrorists if they don’t surrender and refuse to make peace,” Assad said in an interview with Russian television channel NTV.
“We will fight with them and return control by force. It is certainly not the best option for us, but it’s the only way to get control of the country,” said Assad, responding to a question about the northern part of Syria where militant groups backed by Turkey hold some territory.