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    Turkish forces are seen near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria January 22,2018

    Operation Olive Branch Could Actually Improve Turkish-Syrian Ties – Analyst

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    Commenting on the Turkish military’s continued advance in Syria's Afrin district, Turkey-based political commentators told Sputnik that Operation Olive Branch should be viewed in the context of Euphrates Shield, Ankara's first military operation against Kurdish forces, which was completed in March 2017.

    Emphasizing that both the Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield military operations complement each other and aim to disrupt a corridor between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Turkish political analyst Metehan Demir said that the goal of the Turkish military operation in Afrin is to prevent the formation of a Kurdish state in the region.

    "Also, the goal is to eliminate sources of a terrorist threat in the form of PKK attacks on Turkey and hand regional control to legitimate owners. The difference between this operation and Operation Euphrates Shield is only the location and scale of hostilities," Demir pointed out.

    Turkish Army soldiers prepare their tanks next to empty shells at a staging area in the outskirts of the village of Sugedigi, Turkey, on the border with Syria, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018
    © AP Photo / Lefteris Pitarakis
    Turkish Army soldiers prepare their tanks next to empty shells at a staging area in the outskirts of the village of Sugedigi, Turkey, on the border with Syria, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018

    Pointing out a very rapid change in the balance of power in Syria, and the rapidly shifting pattern of strategic alliances, Demir said that "for this reason, it is very difficult to clearly define Turkey's friends and foes in Syria."

    "No one can know for sure what will happen tomorrow. Therefore, it is difficult to say with certainty whether the close relations that have been built at the level of the alliance and strategic cooperation will continue," he noted.

    Demir suggested that during the military operation in Afrin, "steps could be taken to confuse Turkey and knock it off from the strategy it conducts within the framework of the operation."

    READ MORE: Turkey’s Presence in Afrin Shows Complex Syrian Conflict ‘Nowhere Near Ending’

    "I am sure that it is necessary to be ready for everything," he warned.

    The Syria-Turkey Reconciliation?

    Turkish political scientist Volkan Ozdemir, for his part, told Sputnik that "although the main goal of Operation Euphrates Shield was to drive Daesh terrorists out of the area, the strategic goal was to break through the PKK-PYD corridor due to be created in northern Syria' and that "in this vein, the operation was successful.

    "We can see Operation Olive Branch as the continuation of Operation Euphrates Shield." Currently, Turkey is conducting a mop-up operation in the area where the Kurdish corridor was earlier broken," he explained.

    Ozdemir argued that Operation Olive Branch "indicated the beginning of a stage pertaining to actual reconciliation between Syria and Turkey."

    "This process is slow and gradual. If everything goes as it should, the second stage of the operation will be conducted in the Manbij area [in northern Syria]. There is a possibility that Turkey and Syria can de facto establish relations in Afrin and officially – in Manbij", he noted.

    Ozdemir also stressed if the Syrian government ultimately takes control of Afrin or Idlib, "this will mean that the operation has achieved success."

    "Given that a final goal is to ensure the territorial integrity of Syria, this step will mean the victory of Damascus which in turn will be tantamount to Ankara's victory," he concluded.

    Turkey launched its Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria in 2016. Its stated goals was the elimination of Daesh terrorists in the northern part of the country. In March 2017, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced the successful completion of the operation.

    READ MORE: Turkey's New Syrian Offensive Divides Global Community

    On January 20, the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces announced the launch of Operation Olive Branch against the Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin district.

    Located in the northwest of Syria on the border with Turkey, Afrin is part of the Syrian Kurdish region commonly known as Rojava. Ankara considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) controlling Afrin a terrorist organization linked to the PKK which is banned in Turkey.

    Ankara had repeatedly threatened to launch an invasion in Afrin, after Washington announced its decision to start training a border protection force which would include the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) affiliated with the YPG.

    The views and opinions expressed by Metehan Demir and Volkan Ozdemir are those of the analysts and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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