The Turkish president has agreed to be the prison guard for northern Syria in return for some political gains for his own domestic survival
It is no secret that Turkey has been planning a large scale military operation to create a “safe zone” in northern Syria for a long time. However, it now seems to have received the necessary green light from President Trump.
This decision will have a number of serious ramifications on the power balances and security environment in the region, but there is one party that will feel disillusioned and deeply betrayed. The Kurds.
It is not yet clear what the scale of such a Turkish military incursion will be or how far it would go into the Syrian territory controlled by the Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). It is expected to remain within a 100km stretch along the Turkish-Syrian border.
However, after a phone call between Trump and President Erdogan at the weekend, the White House said that the US “will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the Isis territorial ‘Caliphate’, will no longer be in the immediate areas.”
In other words, the Turkish military operation could be a lot more than an incursion and turn into a full scale invasion, probably much deeper than the expected 100 km stretch, and it seems that the US will do nothing about it.
For Erdogan, there are a number of drivers for such a military intervention. Most important is that this could be a political life saver for him as he faces an increasingly challenging domestic political environment.