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After 15/16th failed July coup attempt in Turkey, which claimed 179 lives and in which around 2000+ got injured, Turkish government is taking more strict steps to protect themselves from further problems.
Since the start of 2016, around 15 horrendous events have struck Turkey out of which nine where perpetrated by Kurdish militias and all operating from Turkish territory. Feb 2016 saw a bombing attack in Ankara which was claimed by TAK (Kurdistan Freedom Falcons), The same month saw another attack in the same city which was claimed by HPG (People Defence Force). In March PKK and TAK again rocked the city of Ankara and Diyarbakir respectively. PKK further went on to bomb Diyarbakir and Dürümlü in May. In June 2016, TAK again bombed Istanbul and the last attack by any Kurdish front was from PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) in June in Midyat.
ISIL is involved in 5 attacks. The reason of giving the details was to give an in-depth information which will help in understanding the whole article.
All of these attacks by Kurds were from those which are operating in Turkey. Other Kurdish militias are PYD (Democratic Union Party) and YPG (People’s Protection Units) which are fighting against ISIL in Syria.
The reason of writing the article was why Turkey has intervened in Syria after 5 years, Whom it is targeting and who is backing them. Remember that Turkey and Russia are not on the same page when it comes to Bashar Assad. Recently Turkish PM BinAli Yildrim said that Syria’s future seems stable if Bashar leaves (not the exact words). Russia on the other hand supports Syrian regime.
On Wednesday, Turkey sent its tanks to support Syrian rebels to push back ISIL in Jarablus which lies on the western bank of River Euphrates. Turkey also did some airstrikes in which mostly civilians were killed and it was condemned by Russia. However US who uses Incirlik airbase in Turkey gave air cover to Turkey but we should not forget that US and Turkey have strained relations over Golen (Alleged July 15/16 Coup Mastermind).
I had a question that whether targeting PYD and YPG in Syria would solve the problem of Turkey which is surrounded by both ISIL and Kurd rebels. I went on to Quora and took opinions of many and got a lot to make some points to note.
Firstly I got to know that Kurd rebels are being indirectly funded by US and the main reason to fight ISIL is not to give the land to Syrian regime but to invade to create a buffer zone or a corridor for Kurds to Turkey’s dismay. Turkey has strong reservations over growing Kurdish interest in Syria as Turkish/Syrian border will become unsafe and which was the very first target of both ISIL and PKK. Another obstacle is SDF (Syrian Democratic Force) which is another Kurdish alliance fighting against ISIL in Northern Syria.
Turkey wants not only to eliminate ISIL but those who want to takeover the land next. It would be immature to say that Turkey supports IS because many of the attacks have also been perpetrated by IS. Turkey is however not fighting against ISIL either but supporting Free Syrian Army (FSA) who are mainly Syrian Rebels fighting both the Loyalists and ISIL.
Turkey doesn’t want Kurds to create a link between East and West of Euphrates which will give them a safe route to smuggle militants in Turkey. So we can say that Turkey’s interest in Syria is to protect themselves from any possible routes that poses possible threats. If Turkey continues to strike YPG which is common threat to Syrian Army then there is a winning situation but on the contrary Turkey openly criticises Bashar Assad.
Although there isn’t any relation between PKK and YPG but still Turkish government is obsessed that they want to eliminate every single threat to its territorial integrity. But the spillover effect has started already and the latest bomb attack in Gaziantep was an example which claimed 54 lives. Turkey blames Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and PKK.
Turkey has intensified their “Euphrates Shield” military offensive in Northern Syria. Turkish strikes near the village of Al-Amarneh and in Jeb al-Kussa, outside Jarablus. (Al Jazeera)
The conclusion is that though Turkey is tackling the PKK and other plotters in Turkey, it also wants to buffer its border which is shared by Syria. Turkey will do anything to save itself from the spring that has claimed millions of lives in Syria. Turkey’s strategy is to stop Kurd interest in Turk/Syrian border.
It will also be a test for US as to how it will balance its stance on Kurds to which it is providing funds and on Turkey.
About the columnist:
Muhammad Khalid is a Business/Economics student from Pakistan and is a current amateur political analyst and observer covering domestic and international news.
Muhammad Khalid can be reached on twitter at: @iamkhalidraza