World View: Turkey’s Military Intervention Grows in Syria and Iraq

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stands at the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on Victory Day in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016. Turkish army's 94-year-old victory over Greece was considered crucial in Turkish Independence War and the foundation of modern Turkish republic. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

This morning’s key headlines from

  • In Iraq, Turkey’s artillery and possibly its jets are helping recapture Mosul from ISIS
  • In Syria, Turkey attacks both Kurds and ISIS near Aleppo

In Iraq, Turkey’s artillery and possibly its jets are helping recapture Mosul from ISIS

Iraqi tribesmen protest the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq (Getty)
Iraqi tribesmen protest the presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq (Getty)

There is a growing perception in Turkey that the Mideast borders, especially those of Syria and Iraq, are being redesigned, and Turkey wants to be sure to recover some of land lost in World War I.

In Iraq, Mosul is a historically Sunni city and was part of the Ottoman empire, and any attempt to change is demographic composition would be a direct threat to Turkey’s security. The concern is that the population would be diluted by Kurds or by Shia Muslims coming from Iran.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in a war of words with Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who demanded that Turkey withdraw its troops and tanks from Iraq. Recently, Erdogan responded to al-Abadi:

You are not my interlocutor. You are not at my level. You are not my equivalent. You are not of the same quality as me.

Your screaming and shouting in Iraq is of no importance to us. You should know that we will go our own way.

Turkey has for weeks been training Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) near Mosul. On Monday, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkish artillery fire is being used to aid the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting ISIS, and four Turkish fighter jets are on standby to take part in air operations.

Al-Abadi has repeatedly said that Iraq does not want Turkey’s help. Turkey continues to insist that it must take part in the recapture of Mosul from ISIS to protect its own interests. Iraq’s fear is that Erdogan will get his wish, and that part of Iraq, especially the region around Mosul, will become part of Turkey. Reuters and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Al Jazeera and BBC

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In Syria, Turkey attacks both Kurds and ISIS near Aleppo

Turkey’s military says that it struck dozens of ISIS and Kurdish YPG militia targets on Monday in northern Syria, about 35 miles from Aleppo, as part of Operation Euphrates Shield. Last week, strikes by Turkish warplanes killed 200 PKK/PYD ‘terrorists’ in northern Syria, according to the military.

Turkey said that the strikes were in the support of the Free Syrian Army, and were necessary to prevent the Kurds taking control of the entire region in northern Syria along the Turkish border, with the intention of creating a Kurdish state called Rojava. When Operation Euphrates Shield began three months ago, Erdogan said that stopping a Kurdish state would be a principal objective, along with liberating Syrian cities that had been captured by ISIS.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah says that Turkey’s involvement in Syria and Iraq is a thinly veiled attempt to take control of both Aleppo and Mosul.

Syria’s military calls Turkey’s action a “serious escalation,” and a gross violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

Turkey’s objectives are hardly secret, as Erdogan is pursuing the policies he’s stated several times recently. What I’m waiting for is to see whether Turkey will try to break the siege of Aleppo being implemented by Syria’s army in preparation for massive slaughter of Sunni civilians. That would bring Turkey into direct confrontation with Russia, just as the two countries have been cozying up to each other recently. Reuters and Anadolu (Ankara) and AP and Al Masdar News (Syria)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Iraq, Mosul, Syria, Aleppo, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Haider al-Abadi, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Operation Euphrates Shield, Kurds, Rojava, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah
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