On 9 October, Turkey unleashed a military offensive aimed at eliminating the influence of the predominantly Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria. In a chat, our special correspondent, Allan Kaval, answered your questions about the conflict and its implications.
Turkey launched an offensive in northeastern Syria on Wednesday (October 9th) after the US withdrawal and despite strong international criticism. A first assessment on Monday, October 14, of 104 Kurdish fighters and more than 60 civilians killed, according to the United Nations. More than 130,000 people have already been displaced. The Syrian Kurds, released by the United States, announced Sunday, October 13, have reached an agreement with the regime of Bashar Al-Assad for the deployment of the Syrian army in the north of the country, to oppose the rapid advance of Turkish troops and their allies. Our journalist Allan Kaval, who spent several days in northeastern Syria, answered your questions during a chat.
Yoann: Kurdish forces announce that the Turkish army is reinforced by former jihadist soldiers. What relations does Turkey have with Daesh and the Islamists?
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Ankara has supported several very different opposition groups, all of which are marked by a certain Islamist coloring. These groups took up arms to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. With the strengthening of the regime and the remoteness of the revolutionary horizon, they are now alternative militias serving Turkey's strategic obsession for at least four years: to weaken or even eliminate any influence of the predominantly Kurdish forces in the North. is from the country.
KipeufRkoi? : Following the American inaction and because of the European disabilities, what could be the role of Russia?
Russia has never completely cut off the bridges with the Syrian Kurdish authorities, who themselves have always maintained lines of communication and negotiation with the Damascus regime, protected by Moscow. There can be no doubt that Russia plays a central role in shaping the future relationship between the Kurdish-dominated authorities and the Bashar al-Assad regime. However, Russia can not be totally ankara back. Maintaining good relations with Turkey, not coercing too much in its plans, allows Moscow to further penetrate a wedge between Ankara and its NATO partners.
GN: How long can Turkey conquer northern Syria? What would then be the administration of this area?
The problem is that the Western allies of the YPG (People's Protection Units), which is the dominant Kurdish component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), have given up defending them since the beginning of the offensive. On the contrary, they withdraw. The current Turkish operation could not have taken place without Mr. Trump's blank check of Mr. Erdogan.
"This is an asymmetrical war that illustrates a very imbalanced balance of power between the belligerents and which is favorable to Turkey and its allies. "
Despite a Turkish strike against a military establishment of the international coalition where were present French and American military – strike which did not make victims -, it is not possible for the main nations members of the coalition – who do, like Turkey, part of NATO – to have an aggressive stance towards Ankara. Unlike the Islamist militias deployed by Turkey that are spreading terror in the north-east of Syria with the support of artillery, aviation and the technical resources of the Turkish armed forces, the FDS are completely destitute. A senior Kurdish official from Syria told me again on Saturday that the SDS had to go into "guerrilla mode". It is an asymmetrical war that illustrates a very imbalanced balance of power between the belligerents and which is favorable to Turkey and its allies. It remains to be seen how the forces of the Assad regime, which are deployed in the north of the country at the call of the SDS, will transform the terms of the equation …
Hard worker : Does not this offensive mark the total victory of Bashar al-Assad in this civil war?
Bashar Al-Assad drinks whey. If we look at the situation with a cynical eye, we understand that he took advantage of the intervention of the coalition against the Islamic State with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to see the Syrian territory cleared of any territorial hold jihadist. And then he took advantage of the Turkish strategic obsessions and the floating power in Washington that an operation launched by Ankara ultimately resulted in the withdrawal of the same coalition.
With his Russian godfather, he becomes the sole recourse of the SDS and invests territories he could not regain control in other circumstances. The goal of Bashar al-Assad is to impose his authority once more on the entire Syrian territory. Taken in their irreconcilable strategic interests and the impossibility of a direct confrontation between them, the great powers that revolve around the Syrian crisis do the work for him.
Qwinmore: What are the different means of pressure that France can use against Turkey to incite her to give up this military operation?
Paris is at the forefront of international opposition to Turkish intervention. Facing Ankara, France intends to use its influence at European Union level to push for strong positions or the establishment of sanctions regimes. It also works at the level of the UN Security Council to increase the level of international pressure on Turkey, impose a ceasefire, a non-overflight zone, and a …
But these diplomatic efforts unfold in a temporality that is not that of evolutions on the ground which, themselves, create situations of fait accompli on which it will be impossible to return. Ankara pushes its advantage by taking advantage of the inability of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) allies to act. And this, especially since it is the first leader of these allies, the American president Donald Trump, who, against the opinion of his administration, made this operation possible …
Be that as it may, the form of any political or diplomatic solution carried by such efforts remains extremely vague. It seems that it is now too late and that the urgency of the situation has pushed the FDS to stop waiting for anything from its closest partners to turn to Russia and the Syrian regime, even if it means losing a large part of their autonomy
Dr. Folamour: How intense is the fighting?
In the last few hours, and according to open sources, tensions are rising around the city of Manbij, a veritable knot between the areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), those held by the Syrian regime and those dominated by long date by Turkey in northern Syria. The resumption of Manbij is an objective formulated by Ankara since 2016 and the victory that the FDS obtained against the Islamic State (IS) with the support of the coalition.
"Manbij could be the scene of a dangerous face-to-face between Turkey and the Syrian regime where the Kurdish dominant SDS would be a major player. "
However, in the face of the Turkish threat, the latter have invited the Syrian regime to invest the city and its surroundings. According to statements by the Turkish executive, it is Manbij that could be the scene of a dangerous confrontation between Turkey and the Syrian regime where the Kurdish-dominated SDS would be a major player. In addition, the city of Ras Al-Ain, historically mixed with Arab and Kurdish populations, is still disputed between the Ankara deputies and the FDS. After the Turkish strike against a civilian convoy Sunday, October 13, new artillery fire was reported Monday afternoon. Near Tal Abyad, the Turkish auxiliary forces are increasing their hold. In addition to Manbij, the forces of the Syrian regime continue their deployment in the north-east at the invitation of the SDS. They regained control of their Ain Issa base, north of Rakka where Kurdish forces units raised the Syrian flag. For a regular follow-up of the evolutions of ground, I advise you to consult this site which aggregates the last developments on an interactive map.