Turkey Kurdish Conflict and Syrian War
By Philip Harris Feb. 23, 2017
Turkey is a large country and is the only middle eastern country to be a member of NATO. The interests of Turkey are hard to identify with all the different operations and allies Turkey has in the world. The Kurds are the largest ethic group in the world that doesn’t have a country or a state to call their own. Since 1978, and still ongoing daily, Turkey has battled an insurgency campaign inside Turkey coming from the Kurds and their PKK terrorist allies. The Turks also border Syria, the most harsh and known war in the world today.
When the international community was finding its allies and figuring out how they can defeat ISIS, Turkey was one of the first countries to join in and help. The Turks know the danger the Islamic State presents to them on their border. The Turkish government also doesn’t like the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, majority Kurds) setting up a huge canton in Syria and Iraq while being supported by the Americans.
The war and conflicts happening in Syria on a daily basis has caused the worst refugee crisis on earth today. This is also bad for Turkey because they border Syria to the north and is between Europe and Syria. The path that the majority of the Syrian refugees take is through Turkey or the Mediterranean sea trying to reach any European nation that will keep its borders open long enough to let them in. Turkey currently hosts about 2.7 million Syrian refugees according to the United Nations (UN).
This huge number of refugees that Turkey now has to keep safe, healthy, fed, bathed and clothed, are one of the primary focuses of the Turkish armed forces in setting up a safe zone inside Syria. Operation Euphrates shield is the operation Turkey began to create and clear land near their border with Syria that ISIS had control of, and to set up safe havens for some if not all of the 2.7 million refugees inside Turkey to return to inside Syria.
Turkey has insisted for along time that there needs to be safe havens and zones inside Syria so that refugees themselves can not be used as a tool or weapon of war. As of today Turkey has cleared the last ISIS held stretch of border with Turkey and has been assaulting Al Bab just east of Aleppo. President Erdogan (Turkish President) has stated many times that the next city to come under the operation of Euphrates Shield will be Mabij, Syria. Lets not forget, Mabij (east of Al Bab) has been taken over from ISIS by the SDF with their Kurdish majority. The Turkish forces then say, after conquering Mabij from the SDF, they will be marching to Raqqa, Syria, ISIS self declared capital.
Turkey shot down a Russian bomber last year that was conducting bombing runs on terrorists inside Syria that said the Russian jet had crossed into its airspace. That raised tension in the middle east to all time high because Turkey is a part of NATO. Basically, NATO shot down the Russian bomber in the eyes of Russia. Extreme talks and dialogue have been going back and forth between Turkey and Russia, it seems they have put their differences to rest for now.
The president of Turkey has been asking for assistance in setting up safe zones and areas inside Syria from the U.S. since the Syrian conflict began. The new Trump administration has said it likes the idea of safe zones to help bring the refugees back to their homes. Turkey will surely be a big player assisting in the setting up of the safe zones.
The wars and conflicts in the middle east have given zero indication of letting up any time soon. Turkey has a vast and very well equipped army that could be of some assistance to the changing environment in the middle east. The country of Turkey will have a lot of responsibility in determining the fate of the Syrian conflict and its interior insurgency problems with the Kurds.