Turkey is in Idlib for two reasons

All the best! Turkey made its second biggest move in Syria after Operation Euphrates Shield. It launched the Idlib operation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had told journalists on the plane back from Sochi on May 3, 2017, “If this is achieved, we think that 50 percent of the issue in Syria would be solved,” in relation to the “de-escalation zone.”

That day, I had asked, “Would a ground operation similar to the Euphrates Shield be launched in Idlib? Wouldn’t the Turkish flag be seen in the streets of Idlib in the future as a response to the U.S., which did not hesitate in posing for photographs with members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)?”

The memorandum concerning the “de-escalation zone” was signed between Turkey, Russia and Iran and took effect immediately after that visit.

As a requirement of the memorandum, Russia had announced that “Coalition planes would not be allowed to fly in those regions.”

Then, Turkey had almost immediately announced that it had completed its primary preparations regarding building mass housing in Idlib.

And now, five months later, the Idlib operation has begun. Let’s hope for the best.

Turkey is Idlib’s guarantor

The “de-escalation zone” term developed in May with the initiative of the three countries included details such as flight bans and the prohibition of the use of weapons. And also the guarantorship of the three countries...

The most important section of the de-escalation zones concerning Turkey is Idlib. And Turkey is the guarantor in Idlib.

Idlib is just beside our border. Thousands of civilians who fled Aleppo following the heavy attacks in 2016 are there. The thousands that snuck among them, who were declared to be terrorists are also in Idlib.

Turkey has two points it is sensitive about regarding the Idlib issue.


We are there for two reasons: Civilians and terrorists

The first reason is conscientious and humanitarian. Idlib is a soft spot for Turkey in terms of the life security of the civilians that barely escaped the regime’s attack on Aleppo last year. Thus, it proposed to build mass housing since the first day.

The second is the issue of Turkey’s perpetuity and hence, Idlib is of strategic importance for us. I say Turkey’s perpetuity, because mentioning the likelihood of the terrorist elements in Turkey turning toward Turkey is no exaggeration at all.

Also, thousands of people heading toward our border with the impact of the chaos there – and some of the terrorists among them sneaking into Turkey – is another probability.

There is one other matter. Turkey announced at the highest level that it would in no way allow the formation of a terrorist corridor at its southern border.

As a matter of fact, while returning from Iran the other day, President Erdoğan said, “We told [U.S. President Donald] Trump openly too. If there is an attempt to establish a terrorist corridor in Turkey’s south, we said we would intervene, including northern Iraq.”

Let us also take note that the U.S. wants to interfere in Idlib by using the excuse of al-Qaida and its derivatives. Add to this that the U.S. might bomb terrorist organizations with its air forces. It might do this despite the flight ban. However, it would need to intervene from the ground through the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) Syrian affiliate PYD, which it considers as its ground forces. That is when the actual state which Turkey will never accept would take place. The terrorist corridor they want to form in our south in the event that the PYD/PKK in Afrin enter Idlib would have entered a different stage.

To keep the devils beyond our border

Turkey has recently carried out important operations beyond the border in relation to preventing any kind of threat targeting its border.

Now, it is marching toward Idlib. As of yesterday, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) entered Idlib. The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) are backing them with artillery, while Russia is providing aerial support.

In Idlib, which is the most critical of the de-escalation zones, Turkey and Russia have agreed on the following:

Russia will be in the circle outside Idlib’s border. In other words, Russia is going to be controlling the area outside Idlib. Turkey will be inside Idlib. There are two advantages and goals to this.

First, it reduces the possible risk of the TAF and the regime forces facing each other. Second, it prevents the PYD/PKK terrorists that have settled in Afrin from turning toward Idlib.

While Idlib’s security is ensured, Afrin will be isolated.

The cleansing and civilians’ safety on the inside is left to Turkey.

The three guarantor countries, Turkey, Russia and Iran, are now cooperating more closely in Syria. As an indication of this close cooperation, hopefully the terrorist elements in Idlib will be eliminated without major clashes, and the security will be ensured.

The Idlib operation is Turkey’s elimination of the conflict terrorist organizations that want to spread the conflict into our country on the other side of the border.

Columnist Mehmet Acet also wrote the other day that the National Intelligence Organization chief Hakan Fidan, whom we came across at the airport in Tehran, had said, “All our efforts are to keep the devils beyond our borders!”

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