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After Afrin: How Far East Will Erdogan Go?

After Afrin: How Far East Will Erdogan Go?
Our final topic, picked by you, dear listeners, earlier in a poll on our Facebook page, is “After Afrin: How Far East Will Erdogan Go?” focusing on the next stage of the Turkey’s military operations in the region.

Turkey's capture of the Kurdish-controlled northwestern Syrian town of Afrin earlier this week led to President Erdogan warning that his forces might soon move as far east as Qamishli and even enter the Iraqi town of Sinjar as they continue their ambitious anti-terrorist operation. Ankara considers the Syrian PYD Kurdish political party and their armed YPG militia to be terrorists on par with the PKK, and Turkey fears that they're conspiring to construct a "terror corridor" all along the country's southern border, a scenario that could even see them make a move on the coastal Hatay Province one day in order to connect their conquests to the sea. That's why President Erdogan commenced "Operation Olive Branch" in the first place, and it's presumably the reason why he wants to take it even further following his military's success in Afrin.

There have been conflicting reports over the past month or so about whether the US and Turkey reached an agreement on jointly patrolling the Kurdish-controlled city of Manbij along the western bank of the Euphrates, but all indications point to it possibly becoming the next flashpoint in Syria. Ankara has an interest in pushing the Kurdish-led "Syrian Democratic Forces" east of the Euphrates and having the river serve as a so-called "buffer zone", after which it might eventually launch cross-border attacks against Qamishli and other settlements of strategic significance. Northern Iraq comes into play because it's long been a hideout for the PKK, which President Erdogan suspects of setting up a new base in the mountainous town of Sinjar, but it might be easier said than done for him to actually intervene there because it would be the deepest-ever incursion into enemy territory that he's ever commenced.

As the conventional component of the Afrin campaign draws to a close, the question isn't one of whether Turkey will continue its anti-terrorist crusade, but of exactly how far east its armed forces will go. It also remains to be seen whether they'll finally meet any worthwhile resistance or if their foes will keep falling like dominos in the face of the Turkish advance. Worryingly, however, there are increasing concerns that the Turkish military might end up clashing with its Syrian and Iraqi counterparts if it goes too deep into their territories without their permission.

Levent Karaca, Founder and editor-in-chief of the, and Fredi Hazeem, Recently retired university professor, loyal Syrian patriot and peace activist, commented on the issue.

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