Turkey changes Syria policy from fighting terrorism to permanent stay - analyst

Turkey has been slowly changing the narrative behind its Syria involvement from targeted military operations against what it calls terrorist threats to permanently staying in the country, wrote author and analyst Seth J. Frantzman for the Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

"It claimed in 2016 that it had to invade northern Syria to fight ISIS, then it invaded Kurdish regions claiming it was fighting terrorism, and then claimed it was taking over Syrian land to re-settle refugees," Frantzman said.

Turkey has launched three major military operations in northern Syria with the help of allied Syrian rebel forces.

"Increasingly this looks like a permanent Turkish presence and state-building along the border. Turkey is appointing mayors, Turkish flags have appeared, Turkish language is on buildings, and Turkey is involved more and more with local police," Frantzman said.

Turkey plans to establish what it calls a 32-km deep safe zone along a 120-km stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border between the towns of Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad, after the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish militias that Turkey sees as terrorists due to their links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"This safe zone would enable 3 million Syrians from Turkey to go mostly Kurdish areas in northeast Syria, killing two birds with one stone from Ankara’s perspective: Removing the PKK and bringing pro-Turkish Syrian rebels in its place," the analyst said.