Sputnik: Turkey said it plans to establish a safe zone around Afrin. What's going to happen to the Kurdish population there?
Dr. Huseyin Bagci: In this step of conflict the civilians mostly suffer. It is already the case in several villages. Reportedly, there are a lot of deaths but also some rockets were fired toward Turkey, there are numbers of injured people and one dead already. It is the question how far Turkey can control this area and how long Turkey will stay there. This is the main question. The Kurds definitely have troubles with the regime [the Syrian government] forces and actually, I must say, the regime forces and Bashar al-Assad, the president, they let actually do the job to Turkey. They should actually clean it and the Kurds in the north… control the entire area — more than 2,000 kilometers border with Turkey.
So, I think it's the preemptive strategy of Turkey in the sense of a military intervention and it will have financial implications, it will have diplomatic implications and of course also political implications. So, concerns are arising now not only in neighboring countries but in the entire world. And Turkey, I think, has to be very careful to argue why Turkey is right, at the moment the negotiations are going on and probably the Turkish government has to make a plan and inform the international public what is the ultimate aim, how long they will stay there. So that the international public knows about real intentions of Turkey, otherwise, according to the international law, the more Turkey stays there it would be considered as an intervention, invasion of a neighboring country which is, of course, not acceptable — neither for Syria, nor for another country.
Sputnik: Turkey's former Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said Turkey would not have launched the military campaign if Washington had stopped supporting the Kurdish militia as promised. Do you think that the US has provoked Turkey's military operation by supporting the Kurds in this region now?
Dr. Huseyin Bagci: Yes, I share the views of former Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, who is a good friend of mine, by the way. America definitely has provoked [Turkey]: its action, also support, physical support, providing more than 4,000 tracks of heavy weapons [to the Kurds]. America's intention was to fight Daesh [ISIS/ISIL] but now the Kurds definitely provide the leverage for the United States of America to stay in the region as a local force. Of course, the Kurds are inevitable for American interest and presence in the region… The Kurds are supported by America and this is in contradiction of the Turkish national interest and this is a conflict between two allies, it is not solved yet. Most probably, the Americans are giving green light to the Turkish operation otherwise Turkey could not use 16 jet fighters to hit the targets of PYD [the Democratic Union Party], YPG [Kurdish People's Protection Units] places. So it is also generally accepted view that America provoked this intervention and Turkish President Erdogan was trying to show to America that Turkey can do this operation. […]
This time the problem is not going to be solved in the short term. America will stay there, the Kurds will negotiate with Bashar al-Assad's regime and Turkey has to realize, in the long term, that there is a Kurdish factor in this region, how to live together, what type of modality it will be developed, we will see. But at the moment the main concern, I think, of the Turkish government, the Turkish administration to prevent the borders near Hatay which is very important as it is a gateway for many fighters also previously jihadist radical Islamist fighters, they went via Hatay, Kilis — the entire area where Turkey is now undertaking the operation. Of course the Syrian forces are not strong there so Turkey is also helping Syrian forces to come to the region and, probably take the control of this part of the region… So Turkey is very much in contradiction with the American interest and now more with Syria and Russia. This is a new development in Turkish foreign policy in this part of the world.
The views and opinions expressed by Huseyin Bagci are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.