Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Real Estate: It Doesn't Look Like Turkey Will Be Leaving Syria Any Time Soon

From Al-Monitor, March 19:

Erdogan vows to carry fight beyond Afrin
Turkish-backed forces faced little resistance when they rolled into the Syrian city of Afrin, seizing a Kurdish stronghold and knocking back their dreams of self-rule in northern Syria.

NATO member Turkey’s blitz in Afrin has further complicated Syria’s seven-year war, which has also drawn in external powers Russia, Iran and the United States. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Monday his army would press on to undo Kurdish territorial gains all the way to Iraq.

A faction of the Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes, entered Afrin on Sunday, just two months after Turkey launched an offensive to expel the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the northwest Syrian province, arguing the Kurdish militia posed a security threat at its borders.

Civilians escaped the arrival of the FSA forces in Afrin, which had a pre-war population of 35,000 people, as the fighters raised their rebel flag and the Turkish banner in the city center, news footage showed.

“The symbols of peace and security now wave in Afrin’s city center, not the rags of the terrorist organization,” Erdogan said in a speech hours after the city fell. “Most of the terrorists tucked their tails between their legs and fled. Our special units and members of the Free Syrian Army are cleaning up the remains of the sword and the traps they left behind.”

Turkish newspapers celebrated the fall of Afrin for coinciding with the 103rd anniversary of an Ottoman victory in the battle of Gallipoli during World War One.

“Same spirit, same faith,” Daily Sabah's headline read. The paper compared the relatively unscathed Afrin to the devastation wrought on Mosul and Raqqa after US-backed Kurdish forces took those cities from the Islamic State last year.

Turkey sees the YPG as part and parcel of the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency within Turkey that has killed more than 40,000 people, and the United States’ collaboration with the YPG as a betrayal.

Before Turkey had encircled Afrin, analysts had warned it would face bloody urban street battles. But the YPG withdrew before dawn on Sunday without putting up a fight.

Withdrawal from one battle doesn’t mean [the loss] of war and giving up the struggle,” tweeted Saleh Muslim, the former chairman of the Democratic Union Party, the YPG’s political wing.

In a statement, the YPG said its fight would now enter a new stage, transitioning from direct confrontation to “hit-and-run tactics." It read, “Our forces are everywhere in Afrin. These forces will strike the positions of the Turkish aggression and its mercenaries at every opportunity,” promising “a constant nightmare for them.”

The YPG decided to pull out to prevent more civilian deaths in an area that had been largely peaceful before the Turkish incursion, absorbing thousands of displaced Syrians fleeing fighting elsewhere, said Mutlu Civiroglu, an independent Kurdish affairs analyst, citing sources within the Kurdish administration.

“From the perspective of Kurds, naturally it is a demoralizing situation when Afrin had been spared throughout the war and is home to different cultures. But there is also the feeling among Kurds that this isn’t over,” Civiroglu told Al-Monitor. “They don’t assess this as the fall of Afrin. The YPG is saying that it is changing its war tactics from holding ground to undertaking raids,” he said.

For his part, Erdogan said Afrin was merely a “comma” in Turkey’s battle against Kurdish militants. “We will now add the full stop, God willing … We will now continue to Manbij, Ain el-Arab, Tal Abyad Ras al-Ain and Qamishli until the terrorist corridor is gone,” he said, adding that Turkey was prepared to go into Northern Iraq’s Shinjar region, where PKK fighters are based.
Meanwhile, Israel  is a bit concerned about Turkey adjusting their southern border. From the uber-translators at MEMRI, March 7:

Turkish Newspaper Close To President Erdogan Calls To Form Joint Islamic Army To Fight Israel
On December 12, 2017, ahead of the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul,  the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak, which is close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP party, published an article  titled "A Call for Urgent Action,"[1] which also appeared on the paper's website under the title “What If an Army of Islam Was Formed against Israel?"[2] The article called on the 57 member states of the OIC to form a joint "Army of Islam" to besiege and attack the state of Israel. It notes that such a joint army will greatly exceed the Israeli army in manpower, equipment and budget, and presents statistics to prove this. It also advocates establishing joint bases for the army's ground, air and naval forces that will arrive from all over the Muslim world to besiege Israel, while noting that Pakistan, as the only nuclear country, has "a special status" among the OIC countries. An interactive map provides information on military forces stationed in various locations and the role they can play in the potential joint Muslim attack on Israel.

The Source Of The Yeni Şafak Article: The SADAT Company Website
The main points of the article are taken from the website of the Turkish SADAT International Defense and Consulting Company, which provides consultancy on defense and warfare, both conventional and unconventional, and on military organization, training and gear. The company has an agenda of promoting pan-Islamic military cooperation. According to its mission statement, it seeks "to establish defense collaboration and defense industry cooperation among Islamic countries, to help the Islamic world take its rightful place among the superpowers by providing... strategic consultancy and training services to the militaries and homeland security forces of Islamic countries."[3]
According to Israeli security sources, the SADAT company is involved in aiding Hamas, and seeks to assist – with funds and military gear – the creation of a "Palestine Army" to fight Israel.[4]

SADAT Founder Adnan Tanrıverdi
The SADAT company was founded by Erdoğan’s senior advisor on military affairs, retired general Adnan Tanrıverdi, and is chaired by his son, Melih Tanrıverdi. Adnan Tanrıverdi (b. 1944) served in the Turkish army's Artillery Corps and headed the Home Front Command in northern Cyprus.  He is an expert on assymetric warfare, and was dismissed from the Turkish military in 1996 for his Islamists leadnings. A former Turkish army officer, Ahmet Yavuz, described him as "an enemy of Atatürk" and stated that his dismissal from the army was not surprising.[5]....

Fortunately for the Israelis, Erdogan's purge of the military seriously degraded Turkey's offensive capability vs. a state vs against the Kurds.