Turkey may launch military operation in Iraq’s Sinjar on its own
Baku, Azerbaijan, March 23
By Rufiz Hafizoglu – Trend:
Those who claim that the conduct of the Operation Olive Branch for almost two months demonstrates the weakness of the Turkish army are deeply mistaken, because minimal losses among the civilian population in Syria’s Afrin were one of the priorities for Ankara.
When compared to the liberation of Iraq’s Mosul or Raqqa from the terrorists of the “Islamic State” group, the difference in the culture of war is visible.
There was not a single case of violence by the Turkish Armed Forces not only against civilians, but also militants who surrendered or were taken hostage.
Undoubtedly, the next stage of Turkey’s actions in Afrin is the creation of infrastructure in the city, in addition, it is expected that some Syrian refugees will return to Afrin.
Turkey has also started to establish a city administration, the municipality, the local police and security forces in Afrin.
The Operation Olive Branch, which was aimed at ensuring security of the south-western borders of Turkey, was successfully finished. However, this doesn’t mean that the fight against terrorism is over.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently said that if the government of Iraq is not able to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Turkish Armed Forces will launch a military operation in the Sinjar region on their own.
Sinjar is a city in the north-west of Iraq, located in the province of Ninawa. It is also the administrative center of the district with the same name. The district borders on the north-west with the territories of Syria, which are controlled by the PYD/YPG forces. Terrorists mainly use this corridor to advance in Iraq and Syria.
After Erdogan’s statement, Arab media reported that Baghdad is ready to cooperate with Ankara in conducting joint military operations against the PKK in the north.
However, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said that there is no agreement between Baghdad and Ankara on a joint operation against the PKK in Iraq. Al-Jaafari called on Turkey to withdraw troops from Bashiqa in the province of Ninawa.
In fact, a military operation against the PKK in northern Iraq may strengthen the position of the country’s Prime Minister Haider Jawad al-Abadi, who was able to defeat the IS terrorists.
Despite that the PKK is a real threat for Iraq as well, the statements of the country’s foreign minister against the backdrop of the forthcoming parliamentary election may be considered quite acceptable.
It is obvious that this statement is aimed at the internal audience of Iraq before the parliamentary election scheduled for May 12.
It is no secret that after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, all parliamentary elections in Iraq created many problems that even turned into a Shiite-Sunni confrontation.
For example, after the election in late 2005, a civil war began in Iraq. Parliamentary election in Iraq in 2010 intensified the confrontation between the Sunnis and Shiites, and the policy of then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who turned away from the Sunni Arabs, led to an increase in unrest. And after the election in 2014, a significant territory of Iraq was captured by the IS.
Given the situation in Iraq, as well as the fact that Ankara is aimed at the complete elimination of the PKK, it is possible that Turkey alone will launch a military operation in Sinjar before the parliamentary election in Iraq.
Against the background of everything that is taking place, the question arises: why exactly Sinjar was chosen by Turkey to start the operation.
Firstly, as is known, Sinjar is the main stronghold of the PKK. Secondly, there is a Turkish military base near Sinjar.
Turkey, having launched a military operation in the north of Iraq in the Sinjar area, plans to close the corridor between Syria and Iraq for terrorists.
It is possible that as part of the planned military operation in Iraq, the Turkish Armed Forces will clear of the terrorists an eastern Syrian city of Derik in the province of al-Malikiyah.
At the same time, one shouldn’t forget about Iran’s position regarding Iraq. If the Turkish Armed Forces start military operation in Iraq, this may also lead to aggravation of relations between Ankara and Tehran.
Rufiz Hafizoglu is the head of Trend Agency's Arabic news service, follow him on Twitter: @rhafizoglu