By Arun Srivastava
LONDON: The European Union which is already engaged in a bitter tug of war with the United Kingdom on the issue of Brexit is faced with yet another major challenge and this time from the Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issuing a warning to the EU states of “opening the gates and sending 3.6 million refugees your way” during a combative speech at a meeting of lawmakers from his Justice and Development (AK) party.
This warning from Erdogan has come in the midst of Turkey’s bitter armed engagement with Syria. Turkey has come out with the threat of forcing the Syrian refugees in his country to migrate to Europe if the Union’s leaders do no refrain from accusing Turkey’s military campaign in north-eastern Syria as an act of “occupation”.
Though the Turkish incursion in Syria acquired the nasty character during the last month, the plan was ready for nearly a year. THE USA president Donald Trump has drafted the plan. This in fact is the second times the USA has acted to destabilise the Muslim countries.
Turkey’s offensive was triggered by an understanding between Trump and Erdoğan in which, the Turks claim, Trump handed over leadership of the campaign against ISIS in Syria to Ankara. Later Trump announced that US troops would withdraw from the region. Erdogan’s senior adviser Gülnur Aybet, in fact quipped; “President Trump and President Erdoğan have reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is. Trump knows what the scope of this operation is”.
Hours after the bombing began last week Trump described the invasion as a historical inevitability, saying Turks and Kurds “have been fighting each other for centuries”. This action of Trump indeed has come as a rude shock. Though the USA is aware of the fact that the terror group would ultimately benefit from Turkey’s incursion, Trump gave clearance to Turkey’s military action. It is worth mentioning that the areas in Syria currently under control of Turkey are full of corruption, more corrupt even than regime areas. ISIS would have no trouble buying loyalty, paying bribes to escape.
With USA withdrawing and Turkey in war, the ISIS terrorists under detention would get the much needed opportunity to escape. Already more than 1000 ISIS activists escaped from a detention camp in north-east Syria. Nearly 11,000 ISIS fighters, including almost 2,000 foreigners, and tens of thousands of their wives and children, are being held in detention camps and hastily fortified prisons. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of Kurds has warned that they cannot guarantee the security of these prisoners if they are forced to redeploy their forces to the frontlines of a war against Turkey. They also fear ISIS could use the chaos of war to mount attacks to free their fighters or reclaim territory.
Meanwhile some parliamentarians have suggested to the EU to refrain from intensifying the current crisis. Such an approach “could become an implicit endorsement of Assad’s control over Syria and hence a betrayal to the aspirations of large parts of Syria’s civil society. European cash assistance schemes are helping Turkey manage millions of refugees
Before the SDF was formed in 2015, the Kurds had created their own militias who mobilised during the Syrian civil war to defend Kurdish cities and villages and carve out what they hoped would eventually at least become a semi-autonomous province within Syria. It is an open secret known to the global fraternity that without the SDF, Trump could not have declared the complete defeat of Isis. It was said by non-else but by Gen Joseph Votel, the American commander of operations in Syria who struck the alliance with the Kurds in 2015. The SDF suffered 11,000 casualties in the battle against ISIS.
USA abandoning Kurds and Turkey attacking the Kurd is also seen as the two leaders , Erdogan and Trump, coming close to each other. During the earlier Syrian war, Turkey has been working virtually as an ally of Russia. Even till recently it was viewed as an aide of Russia. But the recent shift is quite intriguing. This undoubtedly points to possible shift in the balance of power.
It is quite noticeable that after months of pressuring, lobbying and amassing troops along the border with Syria, Erdogan finally succeeded in securing the approval of Trump for a military operation in northeast Syria. Operation “Peace Spring” is the third major Turkish military operation inside the country since 2016. This operation will inevitably change the dynamics of the Syrian conflict in a significantly manner.
For the first time Erodogan made his intentions reveal to Trump in December 2018 of attacking Kurds. The final word Erdogan received for execution of the plan was in October this year. On October 6, Trump decided that Erdogan be allowed to go ahead with his military operation and establish a “safe zone”. Just after three days of the decision the Turkish army entered Syria. Already lakhs of Syrians have been turned homeless and hundreds of citizens have been killed so far.
The terrifying consequences of Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw US troops will undoubtedly fiercely reignite the civil war. The Turkey incursion also brightens the prospect of reestablishment of caliphate of ISIS. (IPA Service)