Turkey’s threats to invade Syrian north arouse different views

IDLIB, Syria (North Press) – Recent Turkish threats of invading northern Syria aroused different points of view by political and military analysts.

Some said that the Turkish threats are real, especially as Turkey has done it before, while others said they are just a signal to gain offers from other countries.   

The Syrian political analyst, Nasr al-Youssef, suggested that the recent statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about launching a new military operation in northern and northeastern Syria are “serious”, especially that Turkey has been thinking of the “safe zone” project for years.

The Turkish safe zone is an area of 30-35 km (19-22 miles) on its southern border deep into Syrian territory that Turkey started establishing in 2019, claiming that it aims at settling Syrian refugees in, as well as to keep it free from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which it regards as terrorists.

On May 23, Erdogan announced taking steps to complete the remained portions of the safe zone plan along Turkey’s southern border saying, “We will soon take new steps regarding the incomplete portions of the project we started on the 30-km deep safe zone we established along our southern border.”  

The Turkish president has threatened to invade the Syrian SDF-held areas seven times between October 2019 and May 2022, according to a statistic released by Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

Military sources of the Turkish-backed armed opposition factions, also known as Syrian National Army (SNA), said that the areas which are expected to be targeted are Kobani, Tel Rifaat and Manbij.

Russia will not reject

Al-Youssef, who resides in the Russian capital Moscow, expressed his belief, saying that Russia today badly needs Turkey, especially as it is still bogged down in its war with Ukraine.

“Russia right now does not need to spend time and effort on these areas which it considers secondary compared to the Syrian coastal areas,” he told North Press.

“If Turkey asks Russia for a green light to conduct this operation, Russia will not reject,” he added.

The United States, according to al-Youssef, needs Turkey, which plays a key role in balancing between Russia and the West in the ongoing conflict.

Al-Youssef indicated that the Turkish threats this time are not mere propaganda, “especially since all current global developments enable Turkey to move militarily in Syria.”

He ruled out the possibility of any exchange process of the Syrian areas between Turkey and Russia this time, as they used to do in the past years, stressing that Russia right now is interested in only the Syrian coastal areas.

Signal for negotiations  

“Every military preparations, even if they are accompanied by statements and threats, do not necessarily mean the start of the war, but they could be a sign to the other party, in this case it is Russia, to start negotiations,” said Asaad al-Zoubi, Syrian military analyst, who lives in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

In his talk to North Press, al-Zoubi added, “War is supposed to start silently in order to preserve its secrecy, rather than being preceded by threats.”

He believes that Turkey aims at coming to the negotiation table with Russia, in which Turkey would ask Russia’s permission to invade northern Syria in exchange for offering Russia some gains.

He further explained that Russia today “does not need any Syrian lands from Turkey in exchange for allowing it to launch a military operation in northeastern Syria, but it wants Turkey to hinder Finland and Sweden’s application to joining NATO.”

He said that Russia needs Turkey’s help in many issues, including “opening the Turkish airspace to Russian aircrafts, opening its sea straits for Russia’s ships, preserving the [Russian made S-400] missile deal, and finally halting its support for Ukraine.”

Reporting by Baha’ al-Nobani