Mar 03 2018

Ankara could face post-conflict insurgency in Afrin – analyst

Turkey will be responsible for ensuring the security of Afrin once it completes Operation Olive Branch, a senior resident fellow at the Washington, DC-based Atlantic Council think-tank wrote, leading to a series of potential difficulties ahead.

“Ankara is now on the hook for occupying and administering Afrin, presumably via a governing council comprising Turkish-backed opposition groups that have hostile relations with the local Kurds,” Aaron Stein said.

“In a few months, Turkey will be in control of a sizable chunk of Syria’s Aleppo governorate and will have assumed responsibility for administering services and propping up a local security force, while also having to account for the likelihood of a sustained low-level YPG insurgency against whatever force Ankara empowers.”

All the foreign powers involved in Syria, including Turkey, have competing interests that have complicated the resolution of the war, Stein said, and Russia’s power in the region may not be as complete as some have assumed.

“The Turkish deployment in Syria is part of Russia’s efforts to settle the conflict on its own terms. Ankara thus retains some leverage over Moscow, despite being the less powerful of the two,” he said.

“Yet for both Damascus and Tehran, the disruption of American-Turkish relations is less important than the immediate threat posed by an open-ended Turkish military presence. Ankara, meanwhile, shows no signs of bowing to external pressure to withdraw its forces.”