Does Erdogan plan to launch another offensive on Kurds?
While the Syrian Democratic Forces were thrashing ISIS and destroying its Caliphate, Erdogan started to set up a new "caliphate" in north Syria after Turkish army's occupation with support of the Syrian jihadist rebels that so-called the “Syrian National Army". Simultaneously, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been threatening, as usual, to attack the Kurds and he will "not allow establishing a terrorist state along Turkey's borders".
In recent few weeks, once again, President Erdogan has threatened to launch a new offensive in Kurdish-controlled areas. Following the increased populist rhetoric, for example, and the rhetoric of hatred against the Kurds by the Turkish president, the Turkish army with the Syrian mercenaries started shelling villages across Ain Issa north Raqqa. Added to that, Turkey has been created a new military base in that area close to the M4 highway. Besides, the Turkish President has approved a bill from the Turkish parliament to extend the army's mission to cross the borders with Syria and Iraq.
A glance at Turkey's expected to plan and the military steps that have been done such as digging trenches, tunnels, and watchtowers. It emerges that the Turkish army is trying to take control under the strategic M4 highway, north Ain Issa, and then to occupy the town. In fact, this plan will allow Turkey to take more control in northeast Syria and to cut the connection between the SDF-controlled area and other parts of Syria such as the strategic city of Aleppo.
On the other hand, Russia is considered as guarantors of the Turkey-Russia Accord that to implement it and to protect the Kurdish-controlled areas from Turkish attacks, and there is a Russian military presence in Ain Issa as well. The Russian attitude seems to be in favor of Erdogan's plan if it is not playing a "game". Following the Nagorno-Karabakh deal between Putin and Erdogan, there is also an opportunity for another deal on the ground in Syrian territories as it has happened before between both countries when Russia sold the Kurdish region of Afrin in exchange for Eastern Ghouta. Now, there is a concern that Russia might play such a game plan in Idlib as well and to close eyes on Turkey's military plan in north Ain Issa.
Arguably, Turkey and Russia's "last minutes" game is attempting to benefit from Trump's last two months in the office. In addition, Erdogan is trying to have a plan to take advantage of the presidential transition period in America. However, relying on his short memory, Erdogan's plan cannot be approved even by Trump's administration due to the American decision to reject any more Turkish attacks in the SDF-controlled areas. Whereas, the new-elected president Joe Biden attitude is clear towards Erdogan " America is back", and his team has strongly declared the importance of the US presence in Syria and to support their trustworthy ally the Syrian Democratic Forces.
By Zara Saleh