Turkey doubles down on threat to attack Syria, again

Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday extended the military’s mandate to launch cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq by two more years.

Early this month, Erdogan said Turkey was preparing to step up operations in Syria, where its forces came under attack from a Kurdish militia group supported by Washington in the fight against ISIS (DAES).


The threat posed by pro-PKK Syrian Kurdish militia called YPG is not serious, and probably in retaliation for endless Turkish harassment of Kurdish civilian populations living in North-East Syria.


Domestic pundits claim Erdogan’s true purpose is to create another cross-border clash to cement his ties to nationalist  constituencies.


The  war powers motion was first approved in 2013 to support the international campaign against the Islamic State (IS) group, and has since been renewed annually.


But this marked the first time that the motion was extended by two years, giving President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a longer mandate to pursue campaigns against Kurdish militias in the restive region.  The opposition suggested the two year extension smacks of early elections in autumn of 2022.


It also marked the first time the main opposition CHP party voted against the measure, setting it on a more left wing and pro-Kurdish course ahead of a general election due by June 2023.


Turkish military already staged several military campaigns into Syria, to defend last rebel province Idlib, and to establish a cordon sanitaire around her borers, by invading Afrin, El Bab,  Tel Abyad and surrounding townships.


Turkey has deployed hundreds more troops to northern Syria in preparation for a new cross-border offensive, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.


The Turkish military build-up comes amid tension with both Russia and the United States over their ties to the Kurdish-led forces in the region known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG).


Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country had “run out of patience” after accusing the YPG of a missile attack that killed two Turkish special operations police officers in northern Syria.



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The missiles were allegedly launched by YPG fighters operating under Russia’s sphere of influence in Tel Rifaat, a town high on Ankara’s list of targets for a new incursion.


In 2018, Russia greenlighted Turkey’s military operation against the YPG in the nearby town of Afrin, but stopped short of allowing Turkish forces to enter Tel Rifaat, seen as a key gateway to the city of Aleppo and wider region.

However, the two powers have since found themselves increasingly at odds over Idlib province, where Turkey has sought to halt a Russian-backed offensive by the Syrian army against the last remnants of the armed opposition.


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Meanwhile, Turkey continues to oppose the YPG’s relationship with the United States elsewhere in the region through the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of militias formed to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS).



President Erdogan and his parliamentary AKP-MHP alliance suffered an endless slippage in polls, which critics claim is forcing him into ever-riskier ventures in economy and foreign policy. In the sphere of economics, on Thursday Central Bank announced a new policy framework to combat 20% YoY CPI inflation by “generating current account surpluses”, which was mocked in social media “witchcraft economics”. Erdogan also threatened to kick out 10 ambassadors after the release of  joint statement urging Turkey to release political prisoner Mr Osman Kavala, against whom the president is alleged to hold a personal vendetta.


Countless polls determined that the highest priorities of citizens are high cost of living and soaring unemployment, for which Erdogan apparently has no cure. Instead, his detractors argue, he is in search of quick victories against soft targets abroad to regain popularity.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.