Turkey threatened to resume its offensive in northeast Syria on Monday November 18th, giving as a reason the fact that the US and Russia have not abided by the tripartite agreement concluded between them last month, Reuters reported.
Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, “I call upon them to abide by the agreement and take the required steps to accomplish it, yet if none of them abide by the agreement, Turkey will resume its military operation there.”
Çavuşoğlu noted that according to the agreement between both Russia and the US on one side and Turkey on the other, the Kurdish YPG militia were supposed to be removed from territory bordering Turkey in northeast Syria in return for Turkey ending its offensive.
The United States and Russia on Tuesday disagreed with this assessment and declared their opposition to Turkey’s threat, according to Newsweek.
Political analyst Rabha Allam has pointed out that Turkey has two main objectives in northeast Syria. Turkey considers the YPG as terrorists who are connected to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has pursued Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for more than 30 years. “Therefore it wants to eliminate them as they form an actual threat to Turkish regime stability and the country’s security,” said Allam, adding that this is why Turkey asked for US help in its offensive before it began on October 9th.
At the same time, according to Allam, Turkey wants to secure the creation of an area inside Syria in order to place in it around two million Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey. “Recently, Erdoğan has been calling for a deeper incursion into Syria that goes beyond the proposed safe zone to include Al-Raqqa and Deir El-Zour cities to allow more refugees to return to Syria,” she said, adding that Turkey wants to deport all Syrian refugees in Turkey to Syrian regions that would also be under its control.
According to Newsweek, Erdoğan tweeted an extract of his speech, pledging that Turkey will continue fighting all terrorist threats to its country, particularly in Syria and northern Iraq, until they have been eliminated and the last terrorist has been neutralised.
Turkey wants full control over a long strip of land that would extend 32 km into Syria. It wants a deeper zone than the one the US believes makes sense. James Jeffrey, US special envoy for Syria, said that the US has proposed a two-tiered zone, with a five-km demilitarised strip bolstered by an additional nine km cleared of heavy weapons - stretching in total less than half the distance into Syria that Turkey is seeking.
The US has announced that it wants to protect the oil in this oil-rich area in order to prevent Isis from benefitting from it. The US Defence Department announced it intends to increase its military presence in northeast Syria to prevent Isis elements from reaching oil there.
“The US does not only want to protect the oil from Isis exploitation, it wants the oil itself and wants to impose its control over it,” said Allam, adding, “Who does not want the oil, everybody wants the oil.” The political analyst quoted President Trump as saying this at a press conference.
Allam said that the US is concerned about the Turkish offensive against Syrian northeastern territories as this might lead to a chaotic situation from which Isis could benefit. Chaos may offer Isis a chance to rise again. “There was an implicit agreement between the US and Turkey to attack Isis, however, it did not only attack Isis but also the YPG, who are backed by the US,” she added.
According to Russian News Agency Tass, Russian Defence Ministry Spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters that Moscow's military was surprised by the Turkish Foreign Minister’s statement about Russia's alleged failure to fulfil its promises, as well as his threats about a new operation in northern Syria.
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Ankara had on Tuesday assured Moscow that there was a misunderstanding and that no one in Ankara called in question the work being done by Russia.