The key historical victory of the Battle of Manzikert was commemorated by Turkey on Saturday.
In 1071 the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantine army, opening up Anatolia for Turkish rule. After the Byzantine army was destroyed the Seljuks went on to capture Anatolia from the Byzantine Empire.
Commemorations were held across the country to mark the pivotal victory.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed mass crowds that gathered at the 1071 Victory Square in Turkey’s eastern Muş province.
“The Manzikert victory awarded us with a future. Approximately two centuries after this victory, the seeds of the Ottoman Empire started to spread across Anatolia and then across the globe,” said Erdoğan.
“The Manzikert victory for a long time was unacknowledged. The Battle of Manzikert is the most concrete manifestation of unity and pluralism in Anatolia. As 80 million people, we stand as one. One flag. Our flag is the color of the martyr’s blood, our crescent is a symbol of our independence, and our star is the martyr himself,” he added.
The president commented on terrorist organizations Turkey is waging a fight against.
Praising Turkish nation, Erdoğan marks Victory Week
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday released a written statement for the occasion of Victory Week, praising the resolution and determination shown by the Turkish nation during the 1919-1923 War of Independence.The last week of August is marked as Victory Week because of two key victories by Turkish forces: the Battle of Malazgirt on Aug. 26, 1071, resulting in Seljuq Turks’ defeat of the Byzantine army, opening the way for Turkish domination of Anatolia, and the start of the Great Offensive on Aug. 26, 1922, resulting in Greeks’ defeat at the hands of the Turks. In a statement released by the Presidential Press Office, Erdoğan lauded the Great Offensive -- the final and biggest military operation of the Turkish War of Independence -- as a “symbol of the Turkish nation’s revival.”The resolution and determination displayed by Turks during the great victories prove that the Turkish nation has enough “power and courage to overcome every kind of difficulty,” he said.“The prices that our ancestors paid in order to make this soil our homeland, and our nation’s determination in fighting -- which has become a model for the entire globe -- is the greatest guarantor of our republic,” Erdoğan added.Erdoğan's remarks come days before the 95th anniversary of Victory Day on Aug. 30, which commemorates the victory in the Battle of Dumlupinar in Turkey's Aegean province of Kutahya in 1922, as part of the Great Offensive.
“Daesh, PKK and other terrorist organizations are merely pawns. Our fight is not just against them, but also against those who are using them. Turkey is now standing tall,” said Erdoğan.
The commemoration ceremony at the 1071 Victory Square was attended by President Erdoğan, Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, as well as provincial governors and mayors, deputies, nonprofit organization chairmen, heads of public institutions and tens of thousands of citizens.
Turkey sends military equipment to troops near Syrian border
A military shipment of storm howitzer artillery and M114s were transported to Turkey’s Elbeyli district in the border province of Kilis. A convoy of 10 trucks carrying storm howitzers and M114s were sent to border police stations to combat the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Democratic Union Party (PYD)/People’s Protection Units (YPG) on the Syrian side of the border.The military equipment was deployed to border troops affiliated to the 3rd Border Battalion Command.Video: A year ago: Turkey's Euphrates Shield OperationOperation Euphrates ShieldThroughout Turkey’s history, the country has launched numerous cross-border operations and comprehensive military campaigns. The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) was first deployed overseas when the Grand National Assembly issued the decision to take up arms in the Korean War. The Turkish Brigade that took part in the Korean War was known for its combat skills, determined defense, commitment to its mission and bravery.In the years that followed, the TAF fought across a wide geographical area extending from Africa to Europe. Following the Gulf War, the Turkish military waged a war against the PKK terrorist organization, which has its safe haven positioned in northern Iraq.The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The PKK has been conducting armed violence in the southeastern part of Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the three-decade long conflict.Operation Euphrates Shield: A successful counterterrorism strategy Turkey’s most recent military expedition was Operation Euphrates Shield. The TAF launched the Operation Euphrates Shield in conjunction with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the morning of Aug. 24, 2016. The TAF and FSA had rapid success, and quickly freed Jarabulus.The FSA, backed by the TAF, headed toward al-Bab on Sept. 19 as the Mare-Azaz-Jarabulus-al-Rai area and its surroundings had been recaptured.Following the removal of Daesh from the region, the PKK/PYD was also thwarted from the north. The second most important victory of the Operation Euphrates Shield after the capture of Jarabulus was the capture of Dabiq.On Nov. 10, the advance of the PKK/PYD toward al-Bab from the west was stopped. With Turkish troops, the FSA cleared al-Bab of terrorist organizations in February.Euphrates Shield revisitedEU calls on members to honor Turkey refugee-pact pledgeIraqi Kurd party warns against planned regional poll
Euphrates Shield revisited
We need to first look at why and how Ankara decided to carry out Operation Euphrates Shield through its own military capabilities.In order to answer this question, we must first refer to Turkey’s threat perception at that time. Prior to Operation Euphrates Shield, the National Security Council’s (MGK) advisory decision pointed out the level of threat posed by Daesh (or ISIS/ISIL), the terrorist PKK and the PKK’s Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG, along Turkey’s borders.These terrorist groups increased the risk of simultaneous attacks launched from the Syrian side of the border but organized in Turkish territory.The emergence of new threats, such as missile attacks (i.e. Katyushas landing in the southeastern Turkish town of Kilis) on the border cities or suicide bombings, such as the incident in Gaziantep, where the killing of 54 civilians speeded up the preparations for Operation Euphrates Shield, forced Ankara to take military measures against Daesh and other possible risks.Video: A year ago: Turkey's Euphrates Shield OperationOn the other hand, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) felt much more capable of carrying out such an operation after purging FETO members within the military following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.Therefore, the initiative necessary for conducting the operation was easily gained through the elimination of the FETO members who held strategic positions within the decision-making mechanisms of the military.In other words, the Turkish military was eager and ready to implement the political will to intervene in the Syrian conflict after calculating the operational risks and regaining its self-respect and confidence following the trauma caused by July 15.Certainly, Ankara had long been discussing the potential gains and losses from a military operation into Syria with its regional objectives in mind. It also weighed the benefits and implications of using military force based on conjectural developments.Conjectural developments can be manipulated by changing attitudes and through changes of tack on the part of state and non-state actors. Therefore, Turkey did not decide lightly on Operation Euphrates Shield but rather made the determination to conduct the campaign plan over a considerable period of time after carefully assessing all its strengths and weaknesses, goals and limitations.In this regard, Ankara’s numerous objectives, closely associated with homeland and border security issues, obligated it to take its own military measures, declaring Operation Euphrates Shield to be a vital step for protecting its national security interests and defense.In brief, the aforementioned objectives aimed at through Operation Euphrates Shield might be listed as follows: (i) pushing Daesh terrorists off Turkey’s borders in order to stop attacks in Turkish territory; (ii) supporting the counterterrorism operations of anti-Daesh coalition forces; (iii) setting up a 91-km-wide and 50-km-deep safe zone inside Syria; (iv) pushing PKK/YPG terrorists to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River from the Manbij district. By this means, Turkey would be able to prevent PKK/YPG expansionism along its border and thus create challenging obstacles to and penetrate the projected PKK/YPG corridor in the region.Nevertheless, Euphrates Shield was not only seen as an operation to be conducted against Daesh, PKK and YPG terrorist groups but also as a political campaign against actors who have deepened and further complicated the conflicting nature of relationships at the state level between allies and opponents.-Achieving goalsDespite the limitations, it is possible to say that Operation Euphrates Shield (24 August 2016-30 March 2017) reached its goals to a certain extent.Firstly, the Daesh threat has been eliminated along the border and it is no longer able to carry out attacks from Syrian territory against Turkish military and civilian targets.Secondly, Turkey remained true to its commitment to supporting and consolidating counterterrorist operations conducted by the anti-Daesh coalition.Thirdly, the operation also achieved its objectives by setting a safe zone through its own national capabilities.As a striking example, more than 60,000 refugees and migrants were able to return to their homeland. On the contrary, despite the astonishing achievements of the Turkish military, Turkey was not able to push all of the YPG elements in the Manbij area to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.Unfortunately, Turkey’s failure stemmed from the affiliation between the U.S. and the PKK’s Syrian offshoot YPG. However, Turkey was able to block the merging of the so-called PKK/YPG canton between Kobane and Afrin.-Remaining in the regionIf the mission has already been completed, then the question why Turkish troops still remain in the region is a crucial point to be clarified.We should bear in mind that military operations are not only conducted to defeat the threats of an operational theatre. The military force is also responsible for ensuring and sustaining stability. This is why the Turkish military currently provides security and social stability in order to transform the area of operation into a better living space for the local people.Beyond this non-kinetic operational mission, Turkish priority with regards to its threat perception in Syria is the YPG/PKK presence in the Afrin district. In this context, PKK attacks that take place in the rural area of Hatay explicitly proves how Afrin plays a vital role for Turkey to protect its national security.Basically, the PKK’s presence and the terrorist attacks launched against Hatay are mainly supported and directed from Afrin. We can recall that last week a YPG terrorist was captured in Reyhanli by Turkish Border Security Forces while he was trying to cross the frontier. This is also another crucial reason to keep this area under close scrutiny from the Turkish side.Turkey has initiated a comprehensive construction process in the areas liberated from Daesh by working in coordination with governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as several civil society organizations.Therefore, the process of reconstruction requires a Turkish presence to remain and expand in those liberated areas in order to construct a governance model and social order that can be a reference and guide to the others.By doing so, Turkey will increase its level of reliability and credibility in regard to any possible future military operations which may be carried out to undermine the PKK’s impact in the areas where the PKK spreads black propaganda in an attempt to legitimize itself.Furthermore, Turkey continues its support with the intention of helping make courthouses functional again, paving the road for inner peace by building up prisons, police stations and checkpoints.Turkey has not only been trying to sustain physical order but it has also been working on reshaping and revitalizing the social fabric.For instance, Turkey undertook to restore nine schools and initiated the construction of a hospital, which will be serving approximately 50,000 people. Moreover, Turkey has increased its efforts also to rebuild moral stability and values.In this regard, Turkey’s Diyanet Foundation has played a critical role in the repair of 110 mosques in Syria.All in all, there are multiple factors and range of dynamics in the post-Operation Euphrates Shield period that might shape Turkey’s threat perception and its security landscape.At this stage, military options and strategic predictions that Turkey has in the current Syrian policy are challenged by multi-dimensional counter-strategic moves.Even though Turkey has numerous tactical and operative options against the PKK/YPG in the northern part of Syria, it is evaluated that the question of how the PKK threat in the near future could be overcome by Turkey is also very crucial for the future of Turkey’s military and political engagements in Syria.Any possible operation/intervention of Turkey against the PKK/YPG in the region will also shape its military activism.
Operation Euphrates Shield: A successful counterterrorism strategy
As Syria’s neighbor, Turkey is one of the countries most affected by the Syrian civil war that broke out in 2011. Two terrorist organizations accrued increasing strength as the war raged on. The terrorist organizations that benefited from the war are Daesh and the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Democratic Union Party (PYD).The PYD and Daesh, which seized some parts of the 911 kilometer-long Turkey-Syria border, caused a security threat for Turkey.PYD ADVANCED WITH US SUPPORTThe PYD, which is strongly supported by the U.S., seized Manbij in early August. With this step, the PYD crossed Turkey’s “red line.”Turkey on numerous occasions had expressed that the western part of the Euphrates was a sensitive area for national security, so Ankara issued stern warnings.THE LAST STRAW: GAZIANTEP ATTACKDaesh increased its attacks on Turkey’s border cities with rocket attacks. When cities on the southern border such as Kilis and Hatay were being attacked almost daily, Turkey amped up its security measures.Turkey was shaken by a major terrorist attack in a border city on Aug. 20. A street wedding in Gaziantep was targeted by a Daesh suicide bomber. Over 90 people were wounded in the attack, and 59 were killed.THE BEGINNING OF OPERATION EUPHRATES SHIELDThe attacks that Turkey was subjected to threatened the safety of the nation's citizens, especially those who resided near the borders. The fact that PYD and Daesh were active in the south caused Turkey to take action.The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) launched the Operation Euphrates Shield in conjunction with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the morning of Aug. 24, 2016.The operation was managed by Special Forces Commander General Zekai Aksakallı.Euphrates Shield’s first anniversary TIMELINE OF AUG. 2402:00 – The exploratory Special Forces battalion entered Jarabulus.04:00 – TAF struck Daesh with multi-barrel launcher systems and howitzers06:08 – Air operation targeting Daesh with F16s was launched10:00 – Turkish tanks headed toward Syria with the FSA through Jarabulus10:30 – Antitank mines placed by Daesh were cleared11:50 – Five neighborhoods south of Jarabulus’s center were cleared of Daesh13:00 – FSA cleared the Keklice neighborhood as well as three other neighborhoods approximately five kilometers west of the Jarabulus center16:00 – Jarabulus was entered approximately 12 hours after the operation was launched17:30 – Syrian opposition commanders announced that 50 percent of Jarabulus was recaptured18:18 – The Syrian opposition started to enter the city center with Turkish armored units18:59 – Official institutions in Jarabulus were also recapturedAREAS CLEARED OF TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONSThe TAF and FSA experienced rapid success, and quickly freed Jarabulus. On Aug. 29, the TAF warned the PYD to retreat to the Sajur River as Jarabulus was cleared of terrorist organizations. On Sept. 1, Turkey’s Kilis-Gaziantep border was cleared entirely of terrorist organizations, and the Azaz-Jarabulus corridor was liberated.Video: A year ago: Turkey's Euphrates Shield OperationTHE IMPORTANCE OF DABIQ AND AL-BABThe FSA, backed by the TAF, headed toward al-Bab on Sept. 19 as the Mare-Azez-Jarabulus-al-Rai area and its surroundings had been recaptured.Following the removal of Daesh from the region, the PKK/PYD was also stopped from the north. The second most important victory of the Operation Euphrates Shield after the capture of Jarabulus was the capture of Dabiq.Dabiq, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of Aleppo and around 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Syria’s border with Turkey, was symbolic for Daesh. Dabiq is also the name of one of Daesh’s online magazines.Afrin becomes PKK terrorists’ main baseThe recapture of Dabiq was a huge blow to Daesh. Once Dabiq was purged of Daesh, approximately 1,000 square kilometers had been cleared of terrorist organizations.On Nov. 10, the advance of the PKK/PYD toward al-Bab from the west was stopped. The distance of the FSA to al-Bab was reduced to 10 kilometers. With Turkish troops, the FSA cleared al-Bab of terrorist organizations in February.Operation Euphrates Shield was a legitimate operation. Turkey launched an operation targeting Daesh in line with its international rights as its border and domestic security was threatened.The most difficult part of the operation was recapturing al-Bab and its surroundings.OVER 70 MARTYRSA total of 71 soldiers were martyred during the Operation Euphrates Shield. Al-Bab was recaptured on Feb. 24 after clashes between Daesh and the TAF and FSA.