Despite the United States' rejection and Russia's hesitation, Turkey continues to threaten an imminent military attack on new Syrian areas controlled by the "Syrian Democratic Forces "SDF". The Turkish army and the Syrian armed groups that support it have continued to target populated areas in the Aleppo, Raqqa, and Hasaka countryside.
Despite the fact that the "Syrian Democratic Forces," (abbreviated "SDF") are supported by the US, which leads the international coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq and had repeatedly expressed its willingness to engage in dialogue with Turkey, Ankara's threats, which have previously launched four military operations on Syrian territory and taken control of three predominantly Kurdish regions, remain in place to this day.
The SDF lost the areas of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain / Serê Kaniye in mid-October 2019 after the Turkish army took control of them, and it previously lost the Afrin region in northwestern Syria in March 2018 after a similar Turkish attack.
Turkish threats to launch an imminent attack on Syrian areas under the control of the "SDF" coincide with a decline in the popularity of ruling "Justice and Development" party (or AKP), as well as a decline in the Turkish currency against foreign currencies and unprecedented levels of inflation and unemployment since 1998.
The Turkish threats issued several times in recent days, as well as the Turkish army's targeting of populated areas, have resulted in the displacement of civilians from villages and towns near the Syrian-Turkish border.
Nawaf Khalil, director of Kurdisches Studienzentrum in Germany, believes that the reasons for a possible Turkish attack are "internal" and are linked to problems that Turkey has been dealing with for years, warning of security and humanitarian consequences if Turkey launches a military attack on the SDF.
"When the internal situation in Turkey worsens, the government, as usual, resorts to threatening the Syrian Democratic Forces," he added.
Here is the full text of the interview that Al-Majalla conducted by phone with Khalil:
- What are Turkey's internal reasons for launching a new attack on the "SDF"?
Financial inflation and a decline in the value of the Turkish lira against foreign currencies are occurring within Turkey, in addition to a decline in AKP popularity, as evidenced by research centers and polls close to him, such as the company (Arida Survey). So far, it has received strikes in addition to a Turkish military operation against Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan. These are all signs of Turkish escalation against the Kurds, but Ankara has a habit of threatening the SDF whenever its internal situation deteriorates.
- Can Turkish threats result in a large-scale military attack?
The statements made by Turkish officials already warn of an imminent attack, but so far Washington, Moscow and the United Nations have warned of the repercussions of such an attack on the region, and although Ankara is fighting (SDF) under the pretext of terrorism, it is the only country that classifies the Syrian Democratic Forces as terrorist forces, although Turkey deals with organizations classified as terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Guardians of Religion Organization, in addition to its dubious relations with ISIS. Therefore, it is clear that Turkish politicians are trying to blackmail Washington and its relations with the SDF to obtain approval for the upcoming military operation.
- How does Ankara persuade the West to give it permission to launch a new attack on the "SDF"?
Ankara accused Sweden and Finland of supporting Kurdish fighters when they applied to join NATO last month. This is just one example of Turkish provocation. Ankara demanded that Sweden extradite a Kurdish writer named Mehmet Emin Bilgin, who died several years ago and was a PKK critic. It also demanded that Sweden extradite Amina Kakabaweh, a female member of parliament who was elected by the Swedish people but is originally from Iran and does not have Turkish citizenship. As a result, we can say that Turkey is hostile to Kurds in general, not just the PKK.
- What impact will a possible Turkish attack have on the SDF's fight against terrorism?
The SDF areas are at war with ISIS, and the Syrian regime closes border crossings with its areas from time to time, and border crossings with Turkey have been closed since the SDF liberated them, though the Tal Abyad crossing, for example, was open with Turkey until the last moment when ISIS controlled that town before the Turkish army took control later. As a result, any Turkish attack will have serious security consequences, especially given the presence of prisons where the (SDF) is holding thousands of (ISIS) fighters. Furthermore, the camps that house thousands of ISIS fighters' wives and widows pose a significant security risk, and ISIS may return to them if the female jihadists manage to escape.