By Hamid Bayati

From Operation Peace Spring to sea of tension

November 8, 2019

It is 20 days since the incursion of the Turkish army and its allied militia into northern Syria and the eastern Euphrates. The attack came to a halt a few days later through Russian mediation and a ten-article agreement between Ankara and Moscow.

Regarding Turkey’s concerns over the future of northern Syria and terrorist groups in the area, as well as Ankara’s territorial claims over cities in northern Syria, it seems that the halt of military operation and the deal on pushing SDF fighters 30 km deep into Syrian territory will not last.

Turkey, a key factor in the continued crisis and civil war in Syria, has reportedly spent more than $120 billion for this purpose so far, and it appears there is no prospect in sight for ending such a situation.

For this very reason, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) has spent the last few months trying to unite all the various terrorist groups dispersed in the region to launch a military operation against Kurdish fighters under the command of fugitive Syrian officers.

Although Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior officials have claimed that the main reasons for launching the so-called Operation Peace Spring is to fight terrorism and to transfer three million Syrian refugees from Turkey to their country, it is obvious that political struggles inside the country have prompted the operation.

However, the main part of Turkey’s demands has been met by the halt of military operation and the agreement between Erdogan and Putin to push SDF forces 30 km deep inside the Syrian territory.

The Syrian Democratic Forces and the militant PKK group are the main losers in the operation because they trusted the U.S. one more time after what they had experienced in Al Bab and Afrin, and rejected all the suggestions that Damascus had offered before the Turkish offensive. If they had agreed with the deployment of Syrian forces in the areas under their control, it would have been more difficult for Turkey to invent excuses to attack the eastern Euphrates.

Despite the predictions and conditions on the ground, the Syrian nation and government were the main winners of the developments in northern Syria. With the deployment of Syrian forces along the Turkish border, which have advanced into an area 3 kilometers from the border, the government retakes the control of lost areas and prevents Turkish leaders from making excuses. By establishing order and security in the border, dislocated people will be able to return to their home country and also the risk of terrorist groups’ activities will be diminished.

It is true that U.S. troops are still present in the Al Waleed border crossing and some oil-rich parts of eastern Syria, but removing U.S. forces from the eastern Euphrates and replacing them with Syrian forces will be a very strategic and effective event.

Regarding Turkey’s advance into the eastern Euphrates, the next goal of the Syrian army and its allies is to liberate Idlib and remove the tens of thousands of Syrian and non-Syrian terrorist forces from the city. This is the issue that was highlighted during Bashar al-Assad’s recent visit to an area in Idlib province. Therefore, the next chapter in the fight against terrorism will begin not in the east of the Euphrates but in northern Aleppo and Idlib province, and those terrorists present in these areas should wait for great operations by the Syrian army.

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