Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday that he would resume a military operation in northern Syria, where Kurdish militias are present, to create a “security zone” on the border with Turkey. The decision was made in the midst of a crisis over Ankara’s blockade of Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO, which it accuses of supporting terrorism. In addition, Sweden, Finland and other European countries banned the sale of weapons to Turkey in 2019 for a similar operation by Ankara in Syria, and this was also emphasized by the Turkish authorities to justify their position in the Atlantic alliance.
“Those who respect the delicacy and security of our country, and those who care only about their own interests, will be noticed here, and this will be the starting point for our future actions,” the president warned, clearly referring to relations with the United States and European countries. .
Turkish President Erdogan after the cabinet meeting in Ankara:
– Work has begun on the creation of safe zones 30 km deep along our southern borders.
-Turkish Armed Forces and Intelligence will start new anti-terrorist operations after preparations are completed pic.twitter.com/nGIrJDiB4h
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) May 23, 2022
“We are going to take new steps regarding the remaining parts of the operation we started to create a 30-kilometer security zone on our border in the south,” Erdogan said. “The target of these operations will be areas that serve as the center of attacks on our country and our safe areas,” the president added, without giving further explanation. The government will review the details this Thursday at a national security meeting.
Turkey has already launched several operations in recent years, especially against the Kurdish YPG militias that control parts of northern Syria and are considered by Turkey to be a sister terrorist organization of the PKK. However, the YPG has been one of the main allies of the US and Europe in Syria in the fight against ISIS, despite constant complaints from Ankara. A few days ago, Washington lifted sanctions on the country’s northern regions, many of which are controlled by Kurdish forces, in another move that angered Turkey. All this, according to experts, influenced Ankara’s decision to block the expansion of the Atlantic alliance.
On Monday, Erdogan said he would not allow NATO expansion that ignores Turkey’s core security interests. Ankara accuses Finland and especially Sweden of supporting PKK terrorism. “Turkey sincerely believes and rightly fears that there are PKK funding networks in Sweden. In addition, Sweden has held public meetings with members of the YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK, and Ankara at least wants these meetings not to be held in public,” said Soner Çağaptai, director of the Turkey program at the Washington Institute for the Middle East. Politician and author of the book about Erdogan “Autumn Sultan”. “I also think it’s a strategy to try to get NATO members who already consider the PKK a terrorist organization to do the same with the YPG.”
“The Turkish government also says that Sweden has been at the forefront of EU attempts to impose sanctions on Turkey for its operation in Syria,” Mustafa Aydın, director of the Turkish Council on Foreign Relations, told elDiario.es. “It also seems to be etched into the mind of the Turkish government.”
“The executive noted that Turkey regularly participates in NATO air missions in the Baltic Sea to improve the security of these countries. The question is, will Sweden send its forces to patrol the Turkish border with Syria and Iraq against the Kurdish insurgency? This is a topical issue. Forget about the Turkish operation in Syria. The PKK also enters from Iraq, attacks and returns. If they are not going to contribute to this, then why should they be in NATO?” Aydin asks.
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