Turkey threatens to launch new operation in northern Syria

On August 4, 2019, Turkish President RT Erdogan announced, ahead of a meeting with an American delegation, that he was considering a new military operation carried out against the Kurdish YPG in northern Syria, causing a wave of concern among the coalition forces present in the area, particularly American. Indeed, such an offensive would considerably harm efforts aimed at eliminating the last bastions of the Islamic State still present in the country, and could lead to the release of more than 10.000 prisoners captured by Kurdish forces, who would most likely join the terrorist movement. barely released.

The Turkish decision is based on the strong links between the Syrian Peshmerga of the YPG and the Kurdish independence PKK movement, considered terrorist by Ankara as by the majority of Western capitals. The Turkish authorities had agreed to delegate to Washington the solution to the problem by creating a 'buffer' zone, but faced with the lack of results after nearly six months of negotiations, they are now threatening to intervene directly to "ensure security". of the border with Syria.

At the same time, theThe 18th Pentagon General Inspectorate Report on Operation Inherent Resolve, presents a situation that is far from being stabilized in Syria as in Iraq, a destabilization accentuated, according to the report, by the withdrawal of US forces. Thus, the Islamic State, far from being eliminated, has evolved towards guerrilla tactics, increasing kidnappings, racketeering and assassinations, to maintain its means. An influx of fighters from Kurdish prisons could quickly create a surge of power sufficient to reverse the current trend. In addition, the report emphasizes the accentuation of tensions between the different actors in the conflict, until now more or less allies, and who now find themselves involved in growing antagonisms. The role of Iran is particularly pointed out, its forces acting more and more openly towards their own objectives and agenda, sometimes to the detriment of their “allies”.

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The release of 10.000 ISIS fighters from Kurdish prisons could act as a detonator in the region

The report particularly highlights the fact that the Islamic State reappeared very quickly as American support for Iraqi and Free Syrian forces diminished. In fact, there remain today between 15.000 and 18.000 members of the Islamic State at large in Iraq and Syria, including many fighters, in a guerrilla position, ready to exploit the observed weaknesses of their adversaries. At the same time, the US withdrawal from certain Iraqi regions seems to be accompanied by a rapid failure of basic public services, whether for obtaining identity papers or for police missions.

Under these conditions, a Turkish offensive could act as a detonator to once again set the region ablaze, with the consequences that we know, particularly on international terrorism, but also on the movement of refugees towards Europe. Ankara is obviously perfectly aware of this, and the threat of intervention in northern Syria could well be above all an argument intended to initiate a certain form of normalization of the country's relations with the United States and the countries of the European Union, after the tensions which surrounded the acquisition of S400 and those around exploitation of Cypriot gas reserves. It would not be surprising to see, in the coming weeks, a turnaround in the situation regardingembargo on the sale of F35 to the Turkish air force, or the negotiation of a memorandum surrounding gas exploitation in the Eastern Mediterranean, against a restraint on military initiatives in northern Syria.

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