- The operation has wider implications for the whole region
By: Talha Ahmad
“Wars are not meant to be won but they are meant to be prolonged”. This is what is happening in Middle-East for the last few decades. In the case of Syria alone, it has almost been eight years since the civil war started, leaving millions of people dead. The fate of the war is still unknowm, not because the parties don’t want to end the war but because the parties want to end. All the major regional and international powers want to end the war by bowling out all the other players from the game, but none of them is in a position to do so.
For years all these powers used different religious and ethnic groups inside Syria in the name of freedom, liberty and fighting against injustice and terrorism, for securing their own national interests in the region. Some of the local players are offered money, some are offered international recognition, and some are offered independent states. Kurds are one of the major players in this game who have been used by different powers over the years. “Independent Kurdistan” a dream which was sold to them, without considering the regional and international realities .Kurds kept buying this and now are standing in the middle of nowhere.
Interestingly this is nothing less than a miracle that Iran, Saudi Arabia, the USA, Russia and Israel all are on the same page, opposing this move by Turkey. No country wants Turkey to rise up as another contender for the regional hegemony in Middle-East. But regardless of what will be the fate of region, the fate of Syria is getting clearer with each day passing
A few days back Turkey launched an operation in Eastern Syria against the Kurds which was greatly criticized by all the other players in Syria. But this move by Turkey is one of the most significant, critical and defining ones, which would throw many players out the game. One of them is the USA. The USA has been backing the Kurds not only in Syria but in Iraq from the early 2000s. Whatever the reasons be but US President Donald Trump managed to cope with the pressure of the media and the opposition on the decision to pull out of Syria prior to the operation. Trump had a similar anti-war approach in the case of Iraq, Iran and to some extant even in case of Afghanistan. Trump doesn’t want to get into a direct war with anyone before the elections. The case of Syria was very complex one as Trump said “We will fight to win….” and that’s why Trump would never prefer direct conflict with Turkey for the sake of Kurds who no longer fit in the post-war scenario.
The USA can push other countries against Turkey including France, the UK and Germany. Moreover, the men in office know that the regional interests of Iran are now merging against that of Turkey. The USA does not have many options left, which is why pulling out of Syria seems to be the most suitable option under the circumstances. The USA would like to leave the fight for others, including Iran and Turkey, or leave them to do ‘the dirty work’. Similarly, even Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad would like to let Turkey settle the dispute which he was unable to do throughout his reign. Turkey is moving into Syria against the Kurds, but what people are missing the point that Turkey is not alone but is moving along with 14,000 Fighters of the Syrian National army.
Turkey has all the cards in hand against all the players, millions of refugees, popular support of the Syrian opposition, thousands of armed trained fighters who are willingly to fight anyone be it Kurds, sectarian Iranian proxies or the Assad regime. Turkey is working on a plan to create buffer zone along the Turkey-Syrian border. This is how it’s going to work, territorial gain by eliminating any potential threat to the Turkish state, specifically the PKK, YPG and other Kurd militias, establishing Pro-Turkey (Syria government in East of Turkey) through political settlement with Russia and Assad.
In fact Turkey is working on sending back millions of Syrian refugees, which in the last few months has become a hot topic in the domestic politics of Turkey. Iranian proxies and the Assad regime will sit back, letting Turkey clean up the “mess”, but this would give Turkey great space in Syria which is a problem for both Iran and Assad. Iran would not like any Pro-Turkish force, or anything that is an obstacle to Iranian hegemony in the region. Iran is conducting military drills along the Syrian-Turkey border.
Iran at the moment will avoid direct conflict with Turkey, but on the operational grounds the proxies of both the countries are heading towards major battle in coming months. Iran wants Turkey to contain Kurds but meanwhile don’t want Turkey to expand its influence that can challenge the Iranian influence in the region in the future.
If Turkey manages yhis safely and successfully then this will not remain limited just to Syria. Turkey will try to expand its influence in other parts of the region, including Iraq, that can pose threat to the Iranian as well as the Saudi influence in the region. This is the very reason both Iran and Saudi Arabia are opposing Turkey. Interestingly this is nothing less than a miracle that Iran, Saudi Arabia, the USA, Russia and Israel all are on the same page, opposing this move by Turkey. No country wants Turkey to rise up as another contender for the regional hegemony in Middle-East. But regardless of what will be the fate of region, the fate of Syria is getting clearer with each day passing.