On 26 October 2018 Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a speech to provincial members of his party (Justice and Development Party, AKP) in parliament and, among other things, talked about Syria.
He issued a “final warning” to those who would endanger Turkey’s borders and praised the Sochi Agreement which established deescalation zones in Idlib as, according to Erdoğan, there haven’t been any problems in that area since. (See map below)
Referring to the Kurdish westward expansion in Syria, he said that “We have destroyed the corridor of terror. But re-formations are absolutely unacceptable to us. It’s our red line.” Furthermore, he added that Turkey will focus its energy on the east of the Euphrates river rather than waste time on Manbij (see map below) – in which the Turkish military is currently patrolling. He warned that the east of Euphrates will be “cleared of militants and will be returned to its rightful owners.”
Erdoğan has long warned of Turkish operations in Manbij and east of Euphrates. The relative stabilization of the Jarablus-Azas corridor, Afrin and Idlib in northern/northwestern Syria might indeed allow him to make a move in the Kurdish-controlled areas, not least with the supports of Turkey’s Syrian proxies.
For such an operation Turkey would probably need to get the green light from the United States (US). Given the American presence and control in eastern Syria and the provision of support to Kurdish forces one might think that the US would be reluctant to allow or accept a new military operation by Turkey in that area. And yet nothing is impossible as the US is looking for ways to draw Turkey back into the Western camp and away from Russia. Both the crisis in Idlib and the areas east of Euphrates might provide the US with the right opportunity to that effect.
By the team of Geopolitical Cyprus