Diplomatic Front Poses Problems for Turkey in Afrin #OperationOliveBranch
Every country conducting an operation, like Turkey is doing presently with its military incursion into Afrin against the Kurdish YPG, would desire the diplomatic side of things to go smoothly.
This rarely happens, though, as many countries have found to their annoyance on many occasions.
While Turkey pushes on with its Olive Branch operation, it is facing increasing opposition in the international arena, which is clearly complicating its plans. It seems that the longer this operation takes to attain its goals, the more these complications will increase.
The U.N. Security Council’s Resolution 2401 calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria is only the latest case in point.
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert’s remarks to reporters on Feb 27 that this resolution also applies to Turkey’s Olive Branch operation, elicited the expected angry retort from Ankara.
Nauert’s Turkish counterpart Hami Aksoy accused Washington of “either not understanding the resolution or distorting the truth.”
Ankara’s problem, however, is that it is not just Washington that is saying this.
Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily N Nebenzia was also clear on this point when asked by reporters in New York if Resolution 2401 applied to Afrin.
“We said that it is not only about Eastern Ghouta because we have to attend to all Syria. In the resolution, it is said ‘throughout Syria’” Nebenzia said.
His remarks were not reported by the Turkish press, which is a sign of just how craven the media in this country has become.
The same applies to remarks attributed to French President Emmanuel Macron after his phone conversation with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week.
“The president … stressed that the humanitarian truce applied to all of Syria, including Afrin, and should be implemented everywhere and by all without any delay,” Macron’s office told Reuters after the phone conversation.
This also went unreported in Turkey, but that did not prevent Aksoy from issuing a statement and saying nothing of the sort was discussed between the two presidents.
This seems to be a continuation of the new variation of the “blind man’s bluff” game, which started with Ankara’s denial of the White House’s readout of what was discussed between Erdogan and President Donald Trump over the phone on Jan 24.
Whatever the truth is, though, the French presidency statement laid out Paris’s position on the matter, which is also likely to be the position of other key EU members.
Ankara clearly does not need this at the moment.
Turkey’s problems on the diplomatic front with regard to its Olive Branch operation do not end with this issue. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s call last week on Ankara and Damascus to sort out their differences over Afrin through dialogue also annoyed the Turkish side.
Lavrov’s remark, which came after pro-regime militias entered Afrin, effectively makes Damascus a party in Turkey’s war against the YPG, which Ankara clearly does not want. Not surprisingly pro-government analysts are accusing Moscow now of trying to undermine Turkey’s efforts in Syria.
Erdogan is not known to be a great fan of diplomacy, but Ankara would do well to remember Clausewitz’s dictum that war is only diplomacy by other means. Whatever happens on the battlefield, matters are always resolved – or remain unresolved – at the table in the end.