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    'Erdogan's Worst Nightmare': Russia and Syrian Kurds Working Together

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    Russia's engagement in Syria has ruined Erdogan's regional aspirations and dramatically altered the balance of power in the Middle East, Germany's public broadcasting radio station Deutschlandfunk asserted.

    The media outlet referred to the Moscow-led counterterrorism campaign as a "game changer," as well as a "major blow" to Ankara.

    As soon as Russian planes flew on their first anti-Daesh missions, the Turkish leadership understood that their plans for Syria are no longer viable. "Establishing a no-fly zone in northern Syria is impossible. There will be no 120-kilometer-long and up to 20-kilometer-deep security zone on Turkey's border" with the war-torn Arab country, Deutschlandfunk noted.

    Moscow's decision to launch a counterterrorism campaign following a formal request from Damascus "has rendered Erdogan's policy in Syria largely ineffective," the media outlet noted.

    Fighters from the Kurdish People Protection Unit (YPG) monitor the horizon in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh
    © AFP 2017/ DELIL SOULEIMAN
    Fighters from the Kurdish People Protection Unit (YPG) monitor the horizon in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh

    Russia's contacts with the Syrian Kurds make the situation even worse: for Ankara this amounts to "a nightmare followed by a nightmare."

    The Turkish leadership views all Kurds as a threat to Turkey's security and stability. This reasoning has been behind what Ankara calls a counterterrorism operation in the country's southeastern regions, populated mostly by the Kurds. The ongoing military campaign against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has been condemned as a civil war and even a massacre.

    Erdogan launched the operation after a two-year-long ceasefire collapsed in 2015 to pursue his own political agenda. He succeeded to an extent. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), founded by Erdogan, scored a major victory in the snap parliamentary elections held in November. But this policy could backfire since many view the operation against PKK militants as a "was against the Kurds," the media outlet noted. 

    Turkish riot police use a water cannon to disperse Kurdish demonstrators during a protest against a curfew in Sur district and security operations in the region, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey January 17, 2016
    © REUTERS/ Sertac Kayar
    Turkish riot police use a water cannon to disperse Kurdish demonstrators during a protest against a curfew in Sur district and security operations in the region, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey January 17, 2016

    Russia launched its successful counterterrorism campaign in late September, while Turkey has been part of the US-led anti-Daesh coalition. However, Ankara has mostly focused its efforts on supporting rebels, who are fighting against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and tackling the Kurds.

    In addition, the Turkish leadership has failed to secure its porous border with Syria, which Daesh has used to smuggle fighters, weapons and supplies to the battlefield. This has prompted many to question Ankara's stated commitment to fighting Daesh.

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    Russia Versus ISIL in Syria (618)

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    Tags:
    Turkish Kurds, Russian aerial campaign, Kurds, Syrian conflict, counterterrorism, Daesh, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Syria, Russia
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