According to an anonymous Turkish official familiar with the situation, yesterday’s invasion of northern Syria by way of Jarabulus, with an eye toward fighting the Kurdish YPG, was in the works for over two years before it was finally launched.
The official said that the planned invasion had been delayed “by several factors” in the past. The attack appears to be primarily reactive to the Kurds taking Manbij, and subsequently being closer to Jarabulus.
There is some speculation that the Turkish military was split on the issue, with the coup-plotters largely opposing the plan. The military indeed seemed broadly opposed at any rate, with the Russian rapprochement apparently a factor, along with the Erdogan government’s increased control over the military allowing them to finally go ahead with the scheme.
Turkish officials who have publicly discussed the matter have centered around it being an effort to keep the Kurds from remaining on the western coast of the Euphrates River. It was also seen as an effort to keep the Kurds from taking Jarabulus, which after the fall of Manbij was less defended.
The anonymous official said Turkey had pitched the invasion to the US as far back as June of last year, and that the US had questioned the feasibility of the invasion. It seems like the US would consider the move undesirable now, with the Kurds so closely allied with the US. The US has urged the Kurds to knuckle under and leave Manbij, and carried out strikes in Jarabulus in support of the Turkish tanks crossing the border.