Erdogan preparing new Syria incursion?

Syria oil map

Over the past week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdońüan has been ramping up threats to invade more areas of northern Syria, saying¬†June 1 that he plans to “clean up [the Kurdish towns¬†of] Tal Rifat and Manbij of terrorists,”¬†and establish a greater “security zone”¬†in Syrian territory along¬†Turkey’s border. Much of this region is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey considers to be a “terrorist organization” because of its ties to the Kurdistan Workers’¬†Party (PKK)‚ÄĒa Turkey-based Kurdish separatist organization. It’s not clear if Erdońüan will go ahead with a new incursion now, but some wonder if Western states (such as the US, which has backed the SDF) may be willing to turn a blind eye to such an offensive if Turkey backs off its¬†objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were forced to flee the last Turkish offensive in northeast Syria in late 2019, and a reported 44,000 to 60,000 people have still not been able to go back home.

From The New Humanitarian, June 3.

Note: The 2019¬†Turkish invasion greatly reduced the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Syria, with much territory formerly controlled by the SDF and its allies¬†absorbed into Turkey’s¬†“security zone.” The towns of Manbij,¬†Tal Rifat as well as¬†Kobani¬†and Qamishli¬†remain¬†under precarious Kurdish control, in an uneasy alliance with Assad regime forces.¬†Afrin¬†is the principal town held by Turkey and its local allies, but Ankara has maintained open designs to expand the “security zone.”¬†Turkey has meanwhile launched an offensive against PKK-aligned forces in northern Iraq.

Map: Energy Consulting Group