Euphrates Shield Turning Point For the Middle East

Great efforts are being made to destabilize Turkey. In one sense, these are endeavors made by various terrorist organizations and international powers supporting them to turn Turkey into the new Syria. DAESH, the PKK and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) are attacking from every side in an attempt to undermine the government and drag the country into chaos.

As a liberal democrat who underwent a Western-style education, for many years I considered those who came to such conclusions as conspiracy theorists, but now, for the first time, I can clearly see a multidimensional consortium that has mobilized to disintegrate and undermine Turkey while the global powers deal cards in the Middle East again. We mustn’t forget that a DAESH-linked child suicide bomber claimed more than 50 lives, most of whom were children, during a wedding celebration in Gaziantep last weekend and the PKK attempted to assassinate the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu by targeting his motorcade on Thursday. All this has happened within one month of the coup attempt, where FETÖ tried to smash Turkey with tanks. Meanwhile, there have been other small-scale and large-scale attacks carried out by the PKK in the same period.

It is even more significant that Turkey is now entering Syria to rid Jarablus of DAESH. While facing a number of problems, Turkey is waging a major fight against DAESH, which is the greatest headache facing the world at the moment, as part of the international anti-DAESH coalition.

Some used to say that they supported the People’s Protection Units (YPG), claiming that it was the most effective force fighting DAESH. However, the YPG lingered in Syria after pursuing a strategy that would let the group hold land in the area. It has been seen as favorable now that Turkey has become part of the game and the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) is on the battlefield. Jarablus was purified of DAESH within two days. The fight showed just how much more could have been achieved in Syria had Turkey been given a larger role in the coalition.

At the moment, Ankara’s success in Jarablus has brought about a discursive superiority. After it became clear that the Jarablus operation had succeeded, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Turkish leaders to say that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) would withdraw from the west of the River Euphrates, indicating that the U.S. has finally understood the significance of its alliance with Turkey.

The Jarablus operation aimed to both ensure border security and prevent the PYD from achieving domination in the province. Turkey will remain in Jarablus until the FSA takes full control there. It is predicted that the PYD will withdraw to the east of the Euphrates River in several weeks. The PYD will lose power when the West sees the difference that Turkey’s intervention will make.

DAESH has escalated its threat against Turkey, especially since Turkey opened the İncirlik Air Base. In order to eliminate this threat, Turkey has the chance to reenter the game from which it was excluded following the downing of a Russian fighter jet. At this stage, Turkey seems to be successfully seizing this chance.

The PYD dreams of controlling the region that spans all the way to Afrin. However, both Turkey and the Syrian administration are clearly against the idea. The Damascus administration is afraid of division and of the possibility that the U.S., which overtly supports the PYD, might permanently remain in the region. At this point, it has the same position as Turkey. At this current stage, Turkey is returning to the Middle East through Jarablus and has shown that it can protect its power despite internal attacks. This will strengthen Turkey’s hand to a significant extent in the upcoming period.

* NAGEHAN ALÇI is a Turkish Columnist. She writes for Daily Sabah Turkish newspaper.

(Published in Daily Sabah on Friday, August 26, 2016)