How to Wage War in Syria and Win an Election in Turkey

    Gonul Tol

    Security, Middle East

    A member of Turkish police special forces stands guard in Azaz, Syria January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

    Turkey’s recent military incursion into Afrin will be a test case in many ways.

    Amid much fanfare, Turkey launched a military incursion into the northwestern Kurdish enclave of Afrin over the weekend. Mosques across the country held special “conquest” prayers for the victory of the country’s military. The Ottoman military band, Mehter, performed in the border provinces as a show of support for soldiers taking part in the operation. After the country’s top cleric’s call, thousands across the country gathered in mosques to pray for the servicemen. The opposition, except for the pro-Kurdish HDP, has all lent full support to the operation. Many Turks see it as a historic opportunity to write the wrong of Western efforts to establish a Kurdish state. They think the operation will prevent the Kurds from reaching the Mediterranean and bring peace to the “oppressed people” of Afrin. Nevermind that despite the fanfare, it is a limited push into the outskirts of the city or that the United States has no presence in Afrin or that it is practically impossible for the Kurds of Afrin to reach the Mediterranean or the operation is likely to ignite Arab-Kurdish conflict let alone bring peace and stability. For the Turks, the “second war of independence” is raging in Afrin. And with that, President Erdogan has already achieved the real aim of the operation: galvanizing the nationalists ahead of critical 2019 elections.

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