Turkey Has to Get Used to New Reality on Its Southern Border

On Thursday, Turkish military sources said the country’s armed forces would shell Kurdish militia in Syria should they cross the Azaz-Jarabulus line, which Ankara has described as the red line for its national security, and continue their offensive against ISIS. But Kurds are likely to attain their goals and Turkey will have to accommodate to a new reality, believes Valdai Club expert Yasar Yakis, former Turkish foreign minister.

“Support extended to Kurdish activities in the international community is at the highest level,” Yakis told valdaiclub.com in a telephone interview Friday. “Turkey is in trouble with its own Kurds and it tries to establish a link between the PKK, a terrorist organization operating in Turkey, and PYD in Syria, but this link is rejected by major countries including Russia and the United States. But ultimately, it is the reality in the field that will determine the outcome,” he added.

“The reality, in my opinion, is in favour of the Kurds,” Yakis went on to say. “Americans are bombing ISIS targets in areas where […] Turkey does not want the control of the Kurds to be established, because it will link the Kobane canton of Kurds to the Afrin canton,” he explained.

The Afrin canton in the northwest of Syria is a Kurd-populated area separated from the rest of the Syrian Kurdistan, or Rojava, by territories under the control of ISIS. Turkey considers the establishment of a vast Kurd-controlled area along its southern border a threat to national security.

“In the long run I presume that Kurds will be able to gain control of this area one way or another and Turkey will have to find a way to accommodate this with its interests and find a balance between realities and its own expectations,” Yasar said.

The Kurdish offensive in the north of Syria is supported by US airstrikes. The city of Manbij in the Aleppo Governorate is believed to be their next target. Turkey refers to the Kurdish YPG force operating in Syria as a terrorist organization.
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