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Analysis: Afrin is the next major crisis

Afrin is a flashpoint.



Eli Ridder | The Post

In what will result in a further escalation for the Afrin crisis in northwest Syria, Damascus will be sending its forces to support Kurdish troops against the Turkish invasion leading to what could be the next major international crisis.

Turkey is allied with the United States via the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but started an assault on Syria Kurdish forces just south of its border last month.

Ankara claims the Syrian Kurds are associated with the militant PKK, a terror group in Turkey, but the Syrian Kurds and the U.S. deny this relation.

Also assisting the Turks against the Kurds are pro-Turkey rebels fighting against the dictatorship of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian regime is largely condemned internationally with the exception of staunch allies Iran and Russia.

Russia had backed out of Afrin airspace so that the Turks could launch their Afrin offensive, as Moscow and Ankara have some relations.

The U.S. in the past has supported Syrian rebels but have since dropped most involvement in the Syrian Civil War and is largely focused on assisting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces fight so-called Islamic State.

Afrin is a flashpoint because allies and proxies are on different sides:

  • Russia supports Turkey and its offensive on Afrin but also is loyal to the Syrian regime which is about to help the Kurds
  • The U.S. is against the Syrian regime but is very pro-Syrian Kurds
  • Turkey is a NATO ally of the U.S., and technically is against the Syrian regime but it may be attacking both Syrian regime forces along with U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds
  • The Syrian regime is against the Turkish incursion in all respects and is allied to Russia
  • Israel is definitively anti-Syrian regime, not pro-rebel and supports the Kurdish people

Syrian regime

The Syrian forces likely have the most straight-forward mission in this scenario.

The Syrian Kurdish forces are, and always have been, neutral in regards to the Syrian Civil War, just focusing on the eradication of Islamic State and enjoying a lot of success doing so.

The Turks and their allied Syrian rebel forces are both enemies of the Syrian regime which makes it easier for an offensive to move ahead.

Syria’s state news agency SANA reported that Damascus was readying support troops for Afrin defense but also for an assault on a rebel-held area near its capital.

Despite Kurdish spokespeople excitedly citing the incoming support, this could create some negative international coverage of the new alliance, and erase Kurdish aims of neutrality.

The Syrian regime has an awful human rights record, and has been accused by the global community for striking its own citizens with bullets, explosives, artillery, airstrikes and even chemical sarin gas.

Not to mention that the end goal for Kurds in the Middle East is to create an ethnic state of Kurdistan, something Kurds in Iraq came close to doing last year.

More details to follow. Image of Turkish tank inside Syria firing on Afrin from Rudaw.

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