Following on from a number of previous posts by The WIDER View regarding attacks by Kurdish groups in Turkey and the attempted military coup in July 2016 with subsequent large scale purge, the Turkish government appears to be ramping up it’s rhetoric.
Pro Turkish government Anadolu Agency reported today that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, speaking at a memorial for the victims of the 15 July 2016 coup attempt, stated that:
‘Traitors should know this: FETO, PKK, PYD, YPG, Daesh [also known as ISID in Turkish], we will cleanse them all from our country and wipe out all of them’.
Such rhetoric appears to suggest that Turkey will now be going on the offensive both in Turkey, Iraq and Syria, where most of the groups listed in the above quote are located.
Much has changed politically in a short space of time following the recent attempted military coup, Turkey US relations have soured and a new alliance appears to be emerging between Russia, Iran and Turkey.
This follows previously bitter relations between Russia and Turkey that culminated in the downing of a Russian Jet by Turkish forces and apparent evidence of Turkey facilitating IS and other fundamentalist Sunni Islamic groups in Syria.
Turkey have long wished to see the removal of Kurdish groups who have taken large areas of territory in Northern Syria along the Syria, Turkey border. With Kurdish forces being the main ground force fighting IS and supported by the US, it will be interesting to see how Turkey can implement it’s rhetoric.
If it does indeed go on the offensive, Turkey may choose to target all groups listed by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu simultaneously though this seems highly unlikely. Therefore the order and priority given to groups it seeks to target will be revealing and will no doubt increase complications still further in Iraq and Syria.
Related posts by The WIDER View:
- Long standing tensions are at breaking point between Turkey and Kurds, not to mention Turkey and Russia:
- With reports of possible Saudi and Turkish ground force deployment in Syria, the situation is more volatile than ever:
UPDATE: 24 August 2016:
According to Turkish media, alleged Western deemed moderate FSA groups (group names still to be confirmed), backed by Turkey and the US, have entered Syrian territory across the Turkish border to attack IS in Jarabulus.
The ongoing operation also aims to push back Kurdish fighters towards the Eastern Euphrates river and prevent them from capitalising on the Jarabulus assault following the recapture of Manbij recently by Kurdish forces just South of Jarabulus.
Turkish and US jets have reportedly struck numerous IS targets prior to the incursion with additional support reportedly also being provided by US military ‘advisors’ (or special forces personnel).
This move by Turkey has been brewing for some time with reports earlier in the year of possible Saudi and Turkish troop deployment in Syria along the Turkish border. Following the recent attempted military coup, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now has all the reasons or excuses he needs to justify such action to the international community.
According to Syrian state media SANA, a Syrian Foreign Ministry source stated today that this action breaches Syrian territorial sovereignty and that fighting terrorism is not achieved by seeking to replace the fundamentalist Islamic organisation IS with a fundamentalist Islamic organisation backed by Turkey. Russian and Iranian forces currently operating in Syria do so following requests by the Syrian government.
US vice president Joe Biden has told Kurdish forces to pull back behind the Euphrates River or they will loose US support. Following the recent Turkish military coup attempt and subsequent souring of relations with the US, the US may be taking this stance in an attempt to heal it’s relationship with Turkey and prevent further alignment between Turkey, Russia and Iran.
That being said, it does appear to be some what of a stab in the back by the US towards Kurdish forces it allegedly supports. The coming days will confirm if this widely touted attack on IS turns out to be a pretext for a wider offensive against the Kurds along the Turkish border.
UPDATE: 28 August 2016:
Following Turkeys intervention in Northern Syria, clashes have occurred between Turkish backed opposition groups and the SDF/YPG South of Jarablus particularly around Ayn al Bayda and Amarnah. Heavy artillery fire, tanks and jets have pounded various positions held by the SDF, the SDF have fired artillery toward Turkish and Turkish backed opposition groups with reports of a Turkish tank being destroyed by an SDF ATGM (Anti-Tank Guided Missile) strike.
Latest reports indicate that Turkish backed opposition groups have captured Ayn al Bayda and Amarnaa. According to recent reports, they plan to move South and West toward al Rai, al Bab and Manbij.
Manbij was recently captured by Kurdish forces after weeks of withering clashes backed by US airstrikes and suffering heavy losses. According to AFP today, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that Turkey will fight IS and YPG/PYD militias with the same determination.