Important excerpts from The Hindu and NY Times (with inputs):
- Turkey invaded a Kurdistan held territory in northern Syria in October 2019.
- While Turkey has been active in the eight-year-old civil war in Syria, its recent military incursion significantly ups the ante on the conflict. Its egregiously named ‘Operation Peace Spring’ aims to create a “safe zone” that is 480 km wide and up to 35 km deep inside Syria. Ankara says it intends to relocate some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey in this “safe zone”.
- Turkey sees the presence of Kurds in northern Syria as a major threat. Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, making up between 5 and 10 percent of the Syrian population of 21 million in 2011. They live mostly in the north of the country, close to the border with Turkey, alongside Arabs and other ethnic groups.
- The presence of militia groups in the northern Syrian region has the potential to upset the peace in Turkey. The militia is an offshoot of a Kurdish guerrilla groupknown as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Turkey and the United States consider it to be a terrorist organization. The primary aim of these militants is to secure a self governed nation called as ‘Kurdistan’.
- Turkey sees Kurdish control of an area so close to its border as a major security threat, and fears that the area could become a haven for dissidents fleeing Turkey — or a springboard for insurgents plotting attacks on Turkish territory.
- However, the initial support by the USA to the Kurdish militia (aimed at fighting the ISIS) and later the pull out of its supports has complicated the situation further. The pull out of troops by the USA from the Syrian border.
- The aim of relocating refugees may not be successful as more refugees would be created from the war; direct military confrontation could further harden the apathy thus putting any idea of peace at a distance; the Kurds may feel further isolated and thus peace would be elusive; taking advantage of the war, ISIS could prop its ugly head again; the refugee crisis may spillover to the rest of the world; The sudden abandonment of the SDF by the U.S. would further diminish American credibility in this region.