Islam Ozkan: I don't expect a military operation targeting Kurds before the election

Islam Ozkan: I don't expect a military operation targeting Kurds before the election
Update: 24 July 2022 00:52
A+ A-
Middle East expert says Turkish military operation targeting Kurds unlikely before elections.

Islam Ozkan is a political analyst and columnist specializing on Middle East politics. Ozkan was a representative for several Arab-based media channels. He is also working on his Ph.D. degree, focusing on the Middle East and Islamic states.

Islam Ozkan, a specialist on Middle East politics, says that he does not expect a military operation targeting Kurds before the election. Ozkan has also commented on the importance of the Tehran Summit between Turkey, Russia and Iran, as well as Biden’s visit.

How should we consider Biden’s visit to Middle East?

- Biden has been trying to consolidate the anti-Russian camp on the global scale and to draw the to the side of the United States since the beginning of the Russian occupation in Ukraine [sic]. In the meantime, it should not be overlooked that the Ukraine crisis has given the USA a serious opportunity to consolidate its global hegemony. To be honest, Biden is making a lot of effort at this point, but it cannot be said that he has achieved the desired success at this point due to the decrease in US power. Biden could not exclude the Middle East, which is an important pillar of this global support campaign, for its role in energy production. It is debatable whether Biden was able to get what he wanted from the Arab countries that he met at the Jeddah Summit.

The White House circle, some of the mainstream media writers and think thank organizations seem to think that the gains made in the visit are quite inadequate and far from satisfactory in the face of the concessions made. It seems that Washington has been able to convince Riyadh administration for accepting its demand to increase oil production in order to ensure price stability, but it is not clear when this increase in oil production, which was decided to be increased to 13 million barrels, will begin and when it will be reflected in prices. Let's assume that Biden's demand to increase oil production was given a positive response. Well, can we say that the same positive responses were given about the demands to distance Gulf countries about their relations with China and Russia and to align with the USA? Statements and social media posts by Saudi and UAE senior officials on this subject stand before us as the most important evidence that the US demand is not well met. For example, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan drew the line by saying, “China is our most important economic partner and the US is our most important security partner” in his tweet. The UAE President's Advisor, Anwar Gargash, on the other hand, declared that UAE would appoint a new ambassador to Tehran and that they would not support any politics in the axis of conflict with Iran, as if he were praising Biden, who is trying to form an anti-Iran coalition in Israel. All these indicators reveal that the US's efforts to isolate China and Russia are not so easy, and that Biden's claims that he has succeeded in isolating these two countries are largely an effort for public diplomacy.

What’s new between Ankara, Tehran and Moscow?

What made the Tehran summit, which took place within the framework of the Astana route on Syria, important was the process leading up to this summit and the conditions the world is currently going through. Another reason of the importance of this summit that it was the first meeting of the guarantor countries in Astana after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Although the summit held in Jeddah/S. Arabia last week made eyes to be turned into the Tehran Summit, it is not true that one is an alternative to the other or a response to it. Because the topics and objectives of the Tehran and Jeddah summits are different.

The topics of the Tehran summit were mostly the situation of Syria, the delivery of Ukrainian grain to the world and Iran's nuclear negotiations with the West, as well as Israel's attacks on Damascus. By the way, first time attacks of Israel to the Damascus taken place at the official document has been signed between triple. However, the statements made by the leaders after the meeting showed that each leader played a different tune, or rather they brought up their own priorities and interpreted the declaration from their own perspectives. While Iranian President [Ebrahim] Raisi underlined the need for American forces to withdraw from the north of the Euphrates and emphasized the territorial integrity of Syria, as well as condemned Israel's attacks on Syria while Turkey emphasized the fight against the YPG in the axis of the fight against terrorism. I argue that Putin's priority was to draw attention to the American presence in Syria.

Turkey's threat of operation seems to have brought Damascus administration and YPG forces closer together. YPG has declared that they are protecting this position by transferring the said regions to Damascus administration against a possible Turkey operation.

On the other hand, just as the leaders met in Tehran, the entry of the forces of the Syrian army into the Manbij and Kobani regions in northern Syria seemed to herald the message that would emerge from the summit. At the summit in Tehran, although Turkey claimed that it had achieved some gains on paper, the developments on the ground were an indication that the process was not going in the direction Ankara wished. The YPG has never concealed that it prefers Damascus to Turkey. It has declared that they are protecting this position by transferring the said regions to Damascus administration against a possible Turkish operation.

Already, the news before the meeting showed that Tehran organized this summit together with Russia to create a barrier in front of Turkey's military operation. The Ukraine crisis, of course, increased Turkey's strategic importance and caused it to act as a mediator between the West and Russia, but on the other hand, it also led to the riveting of Russia-Iran relations. The efforts of Russia, which has broken bridges with the West, to raise its relations with Iran, which it has always regarded as a secondary ally, to the level of a strategic alliance are obvious. Iran, which has a radical position against the USA, seems to have become even more valuable for Russia today due to the unprecedented sanctions imposed on it after the Ukraine crisis.

Do you expect a military operation targeting Kurds?

If we look at the foreign policy priorities, it can be said that the operation became more difficult after the Tehran summit, because the statements of the leaders were very clear. However, I cannot say that there is no any possibility that the AKP and Erdogan, who are increasingly cornered in the elections, will embark on such an adventure and commit such a frenzy just to respond to domestic political needs. However, I must say that I see this operation as a low probability due to the current international conjuncture and conditions.

What happened in Zaho? Can it be considered as “Roboski II”?

While the Turkish Foreign Minister flatly denied the allegations that the attack in Zaho, in which 9 Iraqi civilians lost their lives and 29 were injured, was carried out by the Turkish army, circles close to the Turkish government claimed that it was organized by the PKK, which wanted to put Turkey in a difficult situation.

Regarding what happened in Zaho, the PKK does not have the power to carry out this operation, that is, its own artillery batteries, even if the attack was carried out from the air, the PKK or YPG does not have planes or drones. Secondly, Zaho is not the territory of the PKK, for example, if the attack had been made in Shengal rather than in Zaho, the accusations against a PKK might have made sense. In addition, the attack is a high-level attack, it requires a certain power, only a state can do this. As a matter of fact, Hoşyar Zebari, a member of the KDP Politburo and former minister of foreign affairs, stated that the attack was carried out with 155 mm guns. This shows that the attack was carried out by a state.

Another point is that it is the Turkish border, since there is no possibility of Iran doing it, there is no other option left. Finally, the investigation conducted by senior Iraqi army officials during their visit to the scene shows that the fire was opened from the Turkish border. In addition, Turkey has been carrying out the Claw Lock operation for months and that region is TR's operation region. It seems that the Turkish army made this attack by mistake and thought it was targeting PKK fighters there, not civilians.

*Born in Istanbul, Kadikoy in 1989, he has written for many different newspapers and magazines. He received his Cultural Studies Master's degree from Bilgi University. His first book “Futbol mu? Yok daha neler” was published in 2012, which was a compilation of his many interviews. He analyzed Resat Nuri Guntekin’s political views in his own material in his second book “Operada Mucella Suzan,” which was published in 2019. His first novel “Aksamlar Artik Serin” was published in November 2020, and his second novel “Biraz Ses Olsun” was published in January 2021.