Turkey that is geographically and historically linked with Syria, while sharing its longest common border with the Middle-eastern country, would soon be launching a military operation in northeastern Syria. The Syrian operation is definite to heighten the already worsened relations between both the Middle-eastern countries, while the US troops would not be seen anywhere near during the ongoing mission.
The Syria-Turkey tensed relations can be traced back to 1939, a year which marks the self-annexation of the Hatay Province to Turkey, water disputes in the country and Syria’s support to certain parties that have been recognized as a terrorist organization by NATO, the EU, and many other countries. Moreover, the Syrian civil war has severely affected the relations between both the countries, further resulting in suspension of diplomatic contacts.
In June 2012, Syrian Army shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom reconnaissance jet in international airspace, calling it to be violating Syrian laws. The death of the pilots inside the jet further escalated the tensions between both the countries. Turkey called an emergency meeting in NATO and began to hold high level meetings with the US on plans to replace the Syrian government.
The attacks and killing of the troops and citizens have continued since then with no justification of the military action during the prevailing war-like situations.
Observing the heightened scales of civil war even after the US’ interference, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham recently agreed to Syrian operation saying, “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”
Amid the conflicts, both the US President and Turkish President have agreed to meet in Washington in November. As of now, more than 1,000 US troops have been deployed in northeastern Syria to fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
During Turkey’s Syrian operation, the US troops will no longer be present “in the immediate area”, though the latter have planned to reduce the tensions by establishing a safe zone along the border. Whether these plans would be a success is yet to be seen as Turkey has warned to launch a military operation across the border in days ahead.
Turkey will now be responsible for all the captured ISIS fighters in the wake of the defeat of the territorial “Caliphate” by the US, while the latter has got a bigger responsibility of addressing Turkey’s legitimate security concerns.
In the wake of the US-Turkey agreement, the Syrian officials fear that Turkey’s invasion could diminish the existing gains made against ISIS, resulting in Syria being “a permanent conflict area”. The US’ siding with Turkey has raised greater chances of Syria being pulled over by Russians’ opinions.
As the history recalls, allegedly Russia played a central role in the deadlocked civil war in Syria. Previously, the Russians even used their veto-power in the UNSC against resolutions promoted by Western and Arab countries to prevent possible sanctions or military intervention against the Syrian government. Russia even continued to supply arms to the Middle-eastern country, helping them to fight Western-backed rebels.
There are chances that both Russian and Syrian government would once again be united against Turkey’s Syrian operation. Maintaining peace in the region appears to be a difficult task for the US.