The Afrin region in Northern Syria is in a state of war and terror, and the central point of the conflict. With so many different groups and countries trying to gain control over Northern Syria, who will win this geopolitical war? What interests do US and Turkey hold in Northern Syria?
Northern Syria has been in a constant state of war for far too long. Everyday news of terror attacks, civilians being victimised and little children bearing the ugly brunt of terrorism and extremism are shaking up far and wide corners of the world. It seems like a new agenda of conflict arises every day, gripping the Northern Syria region in deeper shambles. With Turkey’s recent march into the Northern Syria region of Afrin, it poses newer threats and intensity for the war in Syria.
Northern Syria- Ankara initiating a Kurdish ‘cleanse’
Early this year, Ankara launched an operation that was aimed at ‘cleansing’ the YPG fighters, who they consider to be the biggest threat to security. This put the civilians of Afrin and the Kurdish troops under threat of attacks from Turkish troops, including extremist groups. The FM of Turkey had previously stated that warnings had been given to the US that continues to engage in the Afrin region of Northern Syria and thus the operations against the region have been initiated.
The YPG also commented on how it had relentlessly resisted the Turk forces and extremist groups invading the Northern Syria region and called upon the government of Syria to defend Afrin and the borders of Syria. Following this, a National Defense Force from Syria was deployed in Syria to defend and protect the residents against Turkish attacks and sieges. The troops in Northern Syria have also requested the US-backed troops operating the region to provide further protection and security. After the US did not extend support, YPG turned to Damascus for support, but conditions laid out by Damascus included returning the Northern Syria region of Afrin to complete administrative control of Syria.
Turkey’s Intentions for Northern Syria
Turkey claims that the YPG, PKK and PYD groups in Northern Syria are terrorist organisations and thus all operations initiated are to eliminate these terror groups. These groups, as claimed by Turkey, pose security risks to the nation. The CIA too has listed the PYD as a part of PKK and as a foreign terror group.
With Turkey waging a war in Syria, the question of how much the public supports the leaders and if the claims are true or not are coming to the surface. Many have also condemned Turkey’s attempt at enlarging its borders and holding greater claim over the Syrian region and carrying out operations that have a religious fervour to them.
What interest the US in Northern Syria?
The two nations- US and Turkey- have one common goal in Northern Syria; to remove Bashar Assad from the position of power. However, all other interests are conflicted! The US announced a stronger border force of the Northern Syria region. Turkey, on the other hand, has warned US against being under threat if they support the YPG or the Syrian Defense Forces.
The US and its presence in Syria point at the nations attempt to hold a position as a leading nation for regional affairs. So while it’s an international issue of power and position for the US, for Turkey it’s more of a domestic issue at hand. After successfully eliminating the ISIS, the US has now turned to the Kurdish conflict. US is thus strengthening its position by providing weapons, training and also support in terms of logistics for Northern Syria and the SDF. In fact, the US has also been reportedly supporting reconstruction and infrastructure projects in the region.
In a nutshell, both Turkey and US and to some extent Israel, are all interested in overpowering the political and structural integrity of Syria. The conflict in Northern Syria is thus fuelled, not just by terror activities, but has an underlying tone that speaks of power and politics.