Earlier last week, the Turkish strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced that Ankara intends to establish a 30-kilometre-wide buffer zone along its southern border with Syria to repel the Kurdish PKK militants and its Syrian affiliate, YPG.
Erdoğan also added that Turkey aims to construct small housing units for repatriated Syrian refugees in the Turkish-held areas inside Syria for returning Syrian refugees.
Accordingly, the Turkish army has launched a large-scale military offensive against northern Syria by entering a large column of its troops and pro-Turkey Syrian mercenaries through the Bab al-Salam crossing point.
Meanwhile, Turkish Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have increased their operations by flying over northern Syria, where they allegedly murdered a high-ranking PKK commander and his bodyguards near Kobanî [also known as Ayn al-Arab].
In this regard, Turkey is purportedly attempting to assault the mainly Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other Kurdish militias with the tacit collaboration of the US army, according to the Syrian official news agency (SANA).
Even though SDF forces are supposedly backed by Washington, Ned Price, the Spokesperson for the US Department of State, in a lukewarm statement on the unfolding developments in northern Syria, said that the White House expects Turkey to adhere to the October 2019 joint statement, which includes a cessation of offensive operations in northeast Syria.
Mr Price, however, described the escalation of Turkish military activities in northern Syria as a move which could potentially undermine efforts against ISIS terrorists.
According to field observations from northern Syria, US guarantees have not assuaged the fears of Syrian Kurds; rather they have served as a sobering reminder that the US made similar statements in 2019 in response to the Turkish onslaught, which resulted in the tragedy of 250,000 innocent civilians fleeing from the towns of Serê Kaniyê and Girê Spî.
These dramatic developments occur within the shifting geopolitical dynamics that have emerged in the wake of Russia’s special military campaign in Ukraine, which has severely impacted the EU’s food and energy security. The Turkish government has fully exploited the unique opportunity to use its VETO right in NATO to gain concessions from Helsinki and Stockholm by pressuring them to ban PKK’s activities in exchange for Ankara’s approval of their membership quest in the pro-US military alliance.
Middle East observers believe that the US has been forced to curry favour with Erdoğan, as all European nations are closely monitoring Washington’s rapprochement with Ankara. In other words, the ongoing bargaining between the West and Turkey to secure Ankara’s “YES” vote on Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bid has considerably bolstered Erdoğan’s position, which manifested itself in launching his recent onslaught against the PKK fighters.
Two delegations from the two Scandinavian countries flew to Ankara to assure senior Turkish officials, including Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Cullen; Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MİT); and Süleyman Soylu, the Turkish interior minister, that the PKK’s activities would be significantly restricted.