Turkey’s Erdoğan using Syria operation to deflect from domestic woes – the National

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is pushing for an operation in northeast Syria to serve his domestic political aims, and not his stated goal of defending Turkey from terrorist attacks, Emirati daily the National said in an editorial on Monday.

Erdoğan reiterated his intention to trigger a military operation against the Kurdish-led Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and its affiliates, which control large territories in north and eastern Syria.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organisation due to its links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed group that has waged an armed campaign for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984.

“But this bravura is an exercise in flexing his muscles; it has little to do with counter-terror efforts and everything to do with domestic politics,” the National said.

Erdoğan has good reason to deflect attention away from the situation in Turkey, where his Justice and Development Party (AKP) suffered heavy losses in this year’s local elections after a currency crisis wiped almost 30 percent off the lira’s value against the dollar in 2018, it said.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan’s foreign policy decisions have brought it into conflict with its Western allies, with the purchase of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia threatening sanctions from the United States.

Another offensive in Syria will not counter terrorism. On the contrary, it will put civilian lives at risk and cause further chaos,” the National said.

“Mr. Erdoğan seems unconcerned by this eventuality, as long as the offensive keeps Turks distracted from problems at home. But while he is keen to project a strongman image abroad, his domestic woes are the Achilles heel which could prove his undoing,” it said.