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Why is Afrin so Important? #SyriaWar

Why is Afrin so Important? <a class="hashtagger" href="">#SyriaWar</a>

Turkey has been flexing its muscle. It has been building up its military presence on the border with Syria. High volume political rhetoric, as well as back channel diplomacy have been continuing.

In the meantime, a pro-government newspaper distributed a video clip demonizing the United States as the “new global villain,” while knowing fully well the ruling group orchestrates the public perception. This is an example showing the decision to step up the campaign of antagonism with the United States.

Why so? Bashing Israel had helped promote ruling elites for some time, but Turkey had paid a humiliating price for it. The initial harvest of the confrontation with Russia had been good, but had it not been really painful to take a U-turn from whatever had been said and done in order to achieve some sort of semi-normalization of ties? With Germany, the Netherlands and many other European Union countries and their institutions, Turkey has been on a course of crisis for a long time. How it will get out of that hurdle, no one knows.

From rampant reports and messages in between the lines in remarks or media reports, it should not be secret for anyone that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan firmly believes that the mastermind of the July 15 coup was the United States or some U.S. public establishments. Fethullah Gülen’s continued refuge in Pennsylvania, as well as the Iran sanctions busting case were what Erdoğan’s Turkey has perceived as “all elements of a hostile systematic campaign.”

Would all these and other anomalies in Turkey-West relations justify development of a confrontational rhetoric? If Turkey attacking U.S.-nourished and supported Syrian Kurdish militia might end up in a confrontation situation between the biggest and second biggest military powers of NATO, can Turkey undertake such a risk? Would the U.S. turn a blind eye to such a probability and continue aligning with the Syrian Kurds, at the expense of losing not only Turkey but perhaps risking the demise of its most important global tool, NATO?

Also read:  Putin: Russia Knows Perpetrators of Attack on its Syrian Bases, It's Not Turkey #SyriaWar

Turkey will not allow Syrian Kurds to establish a belt along the Turkish-Syrian border, nor will it allow the Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish enclaves to connect. Turkey’s existential threat perception requires it to undertake whatever is required, including a full-fledged war, to defer such a “hostile development.”

The Syrian border town of Afrin and its continued control by the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) separatist gang are such a high threat for Turkey for other very important reasons. First and foremost, of these of course is the fact that Afrin has been the passage point of logistical support the PKK has been receiving. Besides, the area has become some sort of new training ground for the gang. Was it not interesting that most of the arms, ammunition and weapons systems Turkey captured in operations were U.S. or Russian made? Was it insignificant that most of these reached the PKK through Afrin?

Turkey will not allow the Syrian Kurdish groups or the PKK to control its border with Syria. At the moment, Syrian Kurds control almost 65 percent of the Turkish-Syrian border. If an army of 30,000-strong is established with U.S.-support and the Syrian extension of the PKK is further consolidated, Turkey might face a far more serious existential threat.

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About The Author

Yusuf Kanli

Born in Cyprus in 1959, Yusuf Kanlı is a graduate of the English Language and Literature Department of the Faculty of Letters of the Ankara University. He started journalism with the Turkish Daily News in 1978. Until he briefly left the paper in 1985 (for military service in Northern Cyprus) he served as diplomatic correspondent, assistant foreign news editor and assistant editor. During this period he was as well one of the two co-authors of an annual reference book on Turkey, “Turkey Almanac”. After completing his military service he returned the Daily News as assistant editor. In 1989 he became executive editor and also started writing daily opinion articles. He continued to be one of the co-authors of the “Turkey Almanac” annual reference book. In February 1993, over differences with the publisher on editorial policy, he quit the paper and joined the Anatolia News Agency (AA) as deputy foreign news chief. He stayed with the Anatolia News Agency until September 1995. In this period, he covered the Armenia-Azerbaijan war over Nogorno-Karabagh, covered developments in the post-independence Central Asian republics. Because of his refusal as the duty editor to run a manipulated news story demanded by the then lady prime minister of the country, he was fired from the AA, a development that Kanlı considers as his “medal of honor” in the profession. On his return to the Daily News for a third time in October 1995, he first became an editor at large but soon assumed the responsibility of electronic publishing and established Turkey’s first daily updated English language news web site, the TDN Online on May 19, 1996 (now In January 1997, he became executive editor of the Daily News for a second time and stayed in that post until he was appointed as editor-in-chief in June 2004. In February 2007, he quit all executive duties and became a contract columnist of the newspaper. He has been also writing weekly articles in Turkish for a variety of newspapers and news portals in Northern Cyprus. He is a former chairperson and the honorary chairperson of Diplomacy Correspondents Association (DMD) of Turkey, an active member of Association of Foreign Policy Council, a member of the executive board and vice chairperson of the Association of Journalists and coordinator of the Press for Freedom project, which has been monitoring and reporting on press and freedom of expression issues in Turkey since 2013. He has been a member of several associations and foundations, mostly established by Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey or abroad. He is married to Dr. Aydan Kanlı and has one daughter, Cansu. He has Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Cypriot triple nationality.

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