Speaking at a news conference today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hyped his military’s progress in their invasion of northern Syria, claiming troops were near the center of the ISIS city of al-Bab, and could quickly finish a fight that’s been ongoing for over a month.
After that, Erdogan says, the goal is to “cleanse” the entire border of ISIS, and that this will end with the capture of the ISIS capital city of Raqqa. Erdogan is said to have recently spoken with top US officials, including President Trump, about joint action against Raqqa.
The comments are noteworthy in a few ways, however. Turkish officials had long said that the immediate aftermath of al-Bab would be an invasion of Manbij, a city controlled by US-backed Kurdish forces. This was no longer mentioned, and instead the suggestion was that it was straight into the Raqqa Province.
The invasion of the Raqqa Province is potentially complex for Turkey, whose control at this point stops at the Euphrates River. The US has been backing Kurdish operations against Raqqa, something Turkey has ruled out participating in. Though the US is said to be open to cooperation with Turkey, it’s not clear how the two operations will be squared.
4 thoughts on “Erdogan: Turkey’s End Goal in Syria Is ISIS Capital of Raqqa”
Turkey has jumped the gun a bit — ISIS has put up stronger then expected resistance to the east of the city. However, it will not be long now. Syrian Army is clearly in supporting role. What at first looked like a coincidental area of proximity, has developed in a full fledged support. Syrian Army is taking positions now on Raqqa road, making it hard for ISIS to decide whether to defend or to leave. After the head of CIA visited Turkey, there seems to be some relaxation in relationship. However US does it, Kurds cannot alone secure the Raqqa region. It is not just the question of taking the town, but there are other towns and townships that are very apprehensive of Kurds, given what has Obama allowed to happen in Manbij. Turkish Army is not only bigger, but with its airforce and heavy weapons, it has the capacity to fight ISIS in the region. And keeping in mind, that ISIS is still hanging out at Deir Azzor, and Palmyra, where Syrian Army is really needed to prevent ISIS from spilling over into Syrian desert after being pushed out of Raqqa. Syrian Army has done a good job at controlling ISIS from the south, preventing it from — what it did on three previous occasions — flanking Turkish forces, with fast and devastating attacks. Once Syrian Army closed in, there was no room left for ISIS to harm Turkish advance. What has been happening is actually something quite remarkable for the Middle East. Never has any group of regional countries successfully organized on the ground and in the air, combining their capabilities. It is a form of military drills — in live conditions. But such cooperation can come in handy down the road. The only wild card here is Al-Nusra — miraculously called now by MSM Al-Qaeda, and its presence in Idlib. They already tried Syrian Army defenses, this time without success. But with Syrian Army being spread on multiple fronts — this can be exploited. This must be a reason why hundreds of soldiers were sent back from Palmyra front. What is interesting, for the first time there is a detachment of Russian special operations that is operating with Syrian Army in the newly reconstructed front at gas fields west of Palmyra.
It is getting interesting. For the first time, Jordan bombed ISIS. Now we hear, that Jordan has “convinced” the rebel group that is operating on its border (presumably refugee camp), a place where once “vetted” fighters were sent into Syria — to sign up for Astana peace process.
So if you have ANY clue what’s going on, the question I’d like answered is- once ISIS is gone, who rules? Turkey opposes Assad. Turkey can’t abide the Kurds. Does Turkey keep Raqqa? How? Do they eliminate the Kurdish enclave? How?
Does Turkey intend to keep what it grabs? If not, who then? Assad? Kurds? Seems unlikely.
The local Arabs were not happy (it would seem) under Alawite rule- they are hardly likely to be more happy under Turkish rule.
What’s the end game? Greater Turkey? A new Turkish Empire?
Turkey has accepted the Russian position that Assad can stay as long as he keeps the Kurds under control. Syria’s borders will not be changed.
Turkey’s end goal has always been the ethnic cleansing of Rojava. I pray they fail and fail hard.
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