Erdoğan’s Syria policy could lead to Turkey’s destruction - analyst

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s offensive against the Kurdish-led autonomous regions in neighbouring Syria may have dire long-term consequences including a revived Islamic State (ISIS) turning on Turkey, wrote former Pentagon official Michael Rubin in the National Interest magazine.

The fate of detention camps housing ISIS members in north-eastern Syria drew international concern this month, after Turkey launched a military offensive to carve out a safe zone cleared of Kurdish fighters along border areas where it plans to resettle millions of Syrian refugees.

Turkey’s offensive targets the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has spearheaded the U.S.-led war on ISIS in the region. Facing an incursion from the north, Kurdish authorities have abandoned ISIS prisoner camps, allowing members of the terror group to flee.

Should the radical group regain strength and stage cross-border attacks from Turkey into Armenia or Greece, Armenia, “Greece and the international community would be right to demand a buffer inside what today is Turkish territory,’’ Rubin wrote.

Furthermore, by demanding the right to settle Arabs inside historically Kurdish areas of Turkey, Rubin said, the Turkish president is creating a precedent by which Armenians and Kurds can demand to settle their own populations inside Turkey. 

Turkey, home to 3.6 million Syrian refugees, has threatened to "open the gates" for migrants to Europe if international support for a refugee safe zone in northern Syria fails to materialise.

Erdoğan’s justification for Turkey’s offensive as a war against terrorism is nonsense, Rubin wrote, as Turkish officials cannot credibly point to terrorist attacks from Kurdish-ruled portions of Syria.

As for his frustration with the international community for failing to see the SDF and its affiliate the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as terrorist organisations, Erdoğan has only himself to blame, the analyst said.

That “Turkey supports Hamas despite its terror designation among both Western and many Arab countries undercuts any standing to complain about Western support of the SDF,’’ Rubin wrote.

Erdoğan may see himself a brilliant military tactician on the level of the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kendal Ataturk, Rubin wrote, however, while Ataturk built Turkey, the current president could very well be sowing the seeds of its destruction.