Preparations for new occupation operation in northern Syria

What Erdoğan said last Sunday after a cabinet meeting matches word for word what he uttered before the occupation of Afrin and Serêkaniyê. The Turkish dictator needs a military diversion.

On October 8, two bombings in Jarablus killed two people and injured 15.

On October 9, an attack on an armored car on the move near Azaz killed two members of a special police unit, Cihat Şahin and Fatih Doğan, and wounded two other police officers in the unit. The Turkish Interior Ministry and TRT reported that the attack was carried out by the YPG from Tel Rifat.

On October 11, a car bomb attack in Afrin killed four people. The Turkish Interior Ministry held the "PKK/YPG" responsible.

On the evening of Oct. 10, Tayyip Erdoğan addressed the issue after a cabinet meeting, saying, "With the terrorist attacks from Syria on Turkey, our patience is exhausted. We are determined to eliminate the threats emanating from there either with the forces influential there or with our own means."

The fact that there was no attack on Turkey from Rojava and not even a single stone was thrown is known to Erdoğan and associates as well as the UN, the USA and Russia. Tayyip Erdoğan, however, saw during the occupation of Afrin and Serêkaniyê that his aide Hakan Fidan's [head of the MIT intelligence agency] suggestion to simply fire a few shells at Turkey from Syria to create a conflict was very useful. He now wants to try the same banal method together with Russia, the US, the UN and the EU in Tel Rifat and Manbij.

What Erdoğan said last Sunday night is word for word the same as what he uttered before the occupation of Afrin and Serêkaniyê. By "the forces influential there," he means Russia, because the U.S. President Joe Biden declared on October 7 that Turkey's operations in Syria were undermining the fight against ISIS. After that, the U.S. state of emergency in Syria was extended.

Why did Biden do this? The meeting between Putin and Erdoğan in Sochi on September 28 was a critical conversation. No information about its content was released either before or after. However, Russia is determined to end the existing situation in Idlib. Turkish troops and jihadists from the Syrian National Army (SNA) and the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militia are to be withdrawn from Idlib and from the M4 highway. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has repeatedly warned Turkey in this regard.

Even if it has not been named in the media, Idlib was the main topic in Sochi. Putin called on Erdoğan to withdraw from Idlib with his militias. Tayyip Erdoğan does not have the strength or the ability to reject this demand. He accepted it. In return, however, he demanded support for a Turkish Islamist occupation of Tel Rifat and Manbij. Putin, however, does not want to support an occupation east of the Euphrates and has pledged support for an operation in the U.S.-controlled territory west of the Euphrates.

The U.S. is aware of the contents of the Sochi talks and negotiations. The fact that the Turkish army has long carried out artillery and air attacks on the Til Temir area east of the Euphrates and has massed troops with tanks and armored vehicles on the border reinforces the likelihood of such an attack. The U.S. President Biden's warning to Turkey and the extension of the state of emergency in Syria have occurred in this context.

After the U.S. statement, Russia and Turkey are reconsidering the agreement reached in Sochi. The successive attacks in the Turkish occupied zone in northern Syria and Erdoğan's statement point to the preparation of an invasion. That Tel Rifat is as a bargaining chip in return for Idlib after the U.S. warning is not difficult to read from the AA and TRT news. The attitude of the U.S. and Russia in the past has been the biggest guarantee for both Tayyip Erdoğan and the jihadist groups on the ground.

Will the U.S. and Russia remain silent on a possible invasion, as they have in previous occupation attacks? In the event of a ground attack, will airspace once again be opened to the Turkey-ISIS alliance, which has been defeated quite a few times by the YPG/YPJ and SDF? If this possibility is secured, Tayyip Erdoğan and the alliance of the Turkish armed forces with the ISIS can carry out a new invasion.

Because the invasion of Southern Kurdistan is not going as desired, they have turned their radar to Rojava and it looks like the intended target is Tel Rifat. The fact that several generals wanted to retire a while ago, that some of them resigned from the Turkish armed forces and that their names and numbers are persistently concealed is related to disagreements on the subject of another invasion of Syria.

The would-be dictator, who considers every meanness and wickedness for the happiness and success of himself and his family, is making preparations for a new occupation and a new war. What such an invasion means and what it will cost Turkey, he does not care.

Former officer and a co-founder of the DEVA party, Metin Gürcan, assumes that Erdoğan and the AKP expect a renewed operation in northern Syria, despite great risks, to distract them from their inability to govern in the face of economic crisis, unemployment, rising food prices and loss of value of the Turkish lira. "The screens can be filled for weeks with terror and security experts and strategists reporting in front of a map of 'this strategic hill and that strategic village’. This would also make the coming winter convenient for policymakers.

The man who rose from ordinary civil servant to dictator in the palace knows about the daily negative reactions to himself and his party and the downward trend in election polls. He also knows that he cannot keep himself in power with a normal election. He sees the only way to prevent the fall and save himself and his family as a military victory, which must take place in some place.

The original Turkish version of Ferda Çetin's column appeared in the daily newspaper Yeni Özgür Politika.