What’s more important is the aftermath of Raqqa
Raqqa is not the end of the road. This is firstly an operation to break ISIS’ back and provide some relief to forces opposed to ISIS.
Binali Yıldırım, the prime minister has announced that the Raqqa Operation has commenced on the night of 2nd-3rd June and that this information was passed to them by the US. Despite the tweets by the ‘enthusiastic journalists’ that ‘our boys are the gates of Raqqa’ it has become apparent that the operation referred to by the Prime Minister is the one supported by the International Coalition led by the Democratic Forces of Syria (QSD). Put more clearly, it was the operation Turkey was not able to participate and which had delayed for months as a result.
The President and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had spoken about the same matter a day before. He was harsher. Repeating his mantra that ‘we will retaliate if there is an attack on us,’ he reinforced his threat with the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) soundbite that ‘we may arrive abruptly one night.’
In his statement, Yıldırım also opposed the operation. Although not to the tune of that of that of the President, he has stated nonetheless that they opposed the US policy and that they did not approve. Despite this he did not hesitate to announce the piece of information relayed to them by the US.
Meeting the prime minister’s diplomatic opposition and the President’s open threat, the implementers of the Raqqa Operation, have so far disclosed no date. It is not either the case that US made any announcement on the matter. The QSD representatives have sufficed to state that ‘it will start in a matter of days and recently on 6 May Tuesday had stated that when the Raqqa Operation will commence. It may well be the case that the 5th phase of the Raqqa Operation may have started also officially by the time you read this article.
It must firstly be said that the Raqqa Operation has not started only recently. The Wrath of Euphrates Action Centre established by the QSD to run this operation commenced the 1st phase of the operation to liberate Raqqa on 5 November 2016. It has been continuing ever since despite Turkey’s opposition.
If Turkey had supported the International Coalition rather than hindering it, Raqqa would have been liberated long ago. However, from the very first day of the operation organised as the Wrath of Euphrates, Turkey only played a disruptive role. It is such that ISIS has been able to translate this opposition into an advantage for itself; at the end, it has been able to stretch an operation that was to be completed in a shorter period of time until now.
The Prime Minister’s statements about the operation, the intimidating declarations by the President, to put it overtly, are an admission of power which can disrupt the operation. The reasons for this admission should be interpreted as “OK we have been persuaded that Raqqa Operation would be carried out by QSD but they should not be around the table, their projects should not actualise.” The rest of this discourse and threat should be taken as follows: if they are to impose their demands during talks then we will intervene directly…
Here the issue is not the Arabs. Especially not the Arabs in QSD, the majority of which are Sunni. The only problem here is Kurds who form the main force of QSD, that is, PYD member Kurdish armed forces made up of YPG and YPJ. Turkey completely opposes Kurds having any military power in Syria and the self-securing of this region by this military power and is against the Kurds governing their living spaces with their own political formations; and is expressing overtly that it will not hesitate to resort to recklessness to actualise the requirements of this opposition
Undoubtedly, Raqqa is not the end of the road. This is firstly an operation to break ISIS’ back and provide some relief to forces opposed to ISIS. Following Raqqa, attention will turn inevitably to Deyrezor. The Russian government, in order to maintain a strong hand against the US, has recently turned its attention to Deyrezor with the support of Iran, Iraq and Syria. As a tableau undesired by the US, this situation has the potential to give rise to newer tensions between the US and the Russia and hence is one which may provide opportunities for Turkey to intervene.
For now, both sides are standing still, on guard. The priority aim is the secure ending of the Raqqa Operation that is to break ISIS’ back. This is what is being taken into account; it is for this reason that US and Russian flags are made visible over Afrin, Kobanê, Serêkaniyê ve Girê Sipî. They do not want Turkey to mock its Raqqa calculations through an effective provocation rather that local attacks likely to prove very ineffectual.
But there is also this: the balance of forces will not be as variable after Raqqa as they currently are now. Put more clearly, the sides would have been more clearly determined.
It must be accepted that in this situation, those with the clearest side, politics and solution are Rojava Kurds. Moreover, Kurds also have the most organised military power.
Can they be mistaken despite this?
Actually we have not witnessed to date any approach which suggests that Kurds are to be mistaken. They were able to arrive to where they are now despite the opposition of regions’ states and especially despite all the counter measures of Turkey. It is clear that, within the balance of forces, which is likely to lose its current temporality and become more concrete, those that take Kurds into account will become the strongest of the field.
This is a fact well known both by the Kurds, and their friends and foes alike. (EVRENSEL DAILY)