Reality Check: Russia Supports Turkey’s Anti-YPG/PKK Operation But The European Union Does Not

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that his nation’s armed force are prepared to launch an anti-terror operation in northern Syria in regions east of the River Euphrates as well as in the city of Manbij which lies just west of the Euphrates. This is significant as it demonstrates that Turkey has lost patience with its nominal US ally that has refused to repudiate its battlefield alliance with the anti-Turkish and anti-Arab YPG/PKK terror group. More specifically, it demonstrates that the promise by the US to Turkey that both sides would cooperate in Manbij in order to replace YPG/PKK occupiers with locally derived majority rule, has disappointed Ankara as the US has not held up its end of the bargain.

Since making his announcement, Presidents Trump and Erdoğan have spoken over the phone in an attempt to reach some sort of understanding regarding Turkey’s national security, but it remains unclear what progress if any was made in this attempt to de-escalate the clear tensions between the NATO members with the alliance’s largest armed forces. Therefore, there is every possibility that Turkey will indeed conduct an anti-terror operation in the aforementioned parts of north-eastern Syria.

Beyond this, there has been a great deal of misinformation throughout both mainstream and so-called alternative media regarding who does and who does not support President Erdoğan’s statements. One key backer of a would-be Turkish operation in Syria is Russia, a nation that continues to cooperate with Turkey and Iran in the Astana format for peace in Syria. Furthermore, it is this Astana format that will soon present the United Nations and the wider world with proposals for constitutional reform in Syria as required by UN Security Council Resolution 2254. This itself is a reflection of the Astana format’s health in spite of the predictions by many (mostly western) naysayers.

While Russia continues to expand its partnership with Turkey in a variety of areas that have nothing to do with Syria, it is crucial to remember that during both the last meeting of the Astana trio in Tehran as well as a subsequent bilateral meeting between the Russian and Turkish Presidents – it was agreed that all parties would commit to a uniform anti-terror agenda. This in effect means that Turkey has issued its most specific condemnation of the Takfiri terror group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham while Russia and Iran will offer support to anti-YPG/PKK operations by Turkey.

Beyond this, in October of this year, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova strongly condemned American involvement with the YPG/PKK terror group in the following way:

“Regrettably, the situation in the eastern bank of the Euphrates is causing growing alarm. As a matter of fact the Americans rule the roost in this zone with reliance on their Kurdish allies. The efforts they exert to form in Transeuphratia some special administration that does not agree with Syria’s current constitution yield results that are far from positive. Such attempts to build a quasi-state annoy the non-Kurdish population – Arabs, Assyrians and Turkomans. The locals are particularly angry over the arbitrariness of the US-sponsored local security service.”

Even prior to this, Russia’s highly influential Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the following on the same subject:

“The Americans have sent to Kurds convoys [YPG/PKK convoys] with weapons through the territory of Iraq, provoking Turkey. Turkey, in turn, has continued its military actions against Kurds in the Afrin area in northwestern Syria as part of the Operation Olive Branch”.

Finally, the highly informative Turkish author Burhanettin Duran just wrote the following as published  Turkey’s Daily Sabah:

“President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced this week that a military incursion east of the Euphrates river was going to happen “within days.” The imminent offensive will be Turkey’s fourth major operation in Syria after Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch and the establishment of observation posts around Idlib. This time around, the Turkish forces will target the designated terrorist organization PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has been under U.S. protection. Although the next mission’s objective is different, Turkey’s approach hasn’t really changed. Turkish officials explained in advance what they intended to do in Syria. They have informed the public about ongoing diplomatic contacts with their relevant military counterparts and underscored their determination to act. At home and abroad, it was made clear that Turkey was committed to this particular course of action. The Turkish decision to move came after Russia publicly accused the United States of trying to establish a so-called Kurdish state in Syria – which alone suggests that the time is right”. 

Therefore, as Russia has a fairly long track record of officially condemning US-YPG/PKK machinations in the region, combined with the fact that a learned Turkish author writing in an influential Turkish publication said that Russia’s most recent statements on the matter were a prime motivation for the timing of President Erdoğan’s announcement that an anti-terror operation is forthcoming – it can be unambiguously concluded that Russia’s position on the matter is one that is supportive of the nation security concerns of its Turkish partner.

By contrast, Russia’s traditional antagonists in the European Union have condemned Turkey’s yet to be inaugurated anti-YPG/PKK operation in Syria. This should not come as a surprise as many European states continue to ignore, passively facilitate and even directly encourage PKK terror in spite of hypocritically discussing prospective EU membership for Turkey.

Thus, it is clear that far too many observers are not up to speed in respect of understanding how Turkey’s relations with the wider “global east and south” as well as how Turkeys’ relations with the US and EU have changed over the past several years. The reality today is that Russia is supportive of Turkey’s likely anti-terror operation in north-eastern Syria just as both countries continue to cooperate successfully in respect of monitoring the de-escalation zones in Syria’s Idlib.

At the same time, the wider US-EU western alliance is becoming ever more brazen in its defence of a dangerous anti-Turkish terror group and of course this will be noticed in Ankara and dealt with appropriately.

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