Original published by RIA, translation and analysis by J.Hawk
Ankara will not allow Syrian Kurds to establish a corridor between the regions they control in northern Syria, Erdogan told journalists on Friday.
“Russia and Assad regime forces as well as the Syrian Kurdish Party of Democratic Union and associated Syrian Kurd self-defense forces are operating in concert. Russia is making territory available for them to locate Kurdish self-defense forces and create a corridor (between Kurdish regions in Syria’s North–editor’s note). We will not allow them to do it.” Erdogan said.
Erdogan emphasized that Ankara will not allow the Syrian city of Aazaz, which is close to the border with Turkey, to fall under the control of Kurdish Party of Democratic Union.
“Our attacks aimed at preventing that will continue. We will not quietly observe illegal activities on our southern border,” Erdogan added.
Turkish artillery has been shelling Kurdish self-defense forces at the Minneh airbase and a nearby village for five days. Turkey’s PM Davutoglu called it a retaliatory measure due to the threat posed to Turkish border by Kurdish units, and demanded that they abandon positions to the north of Aleppo, which the Kurdish leader Salih Muslim refused to do.
US VP Joe Biden called on Turkey to stop shelling Kurdish units in Syria. Russian MFA announced that Moscow is concerned by Turkish shelling of Syrian territory and considers them to represent open support for terrorism and violation of UNSC resolutions.
J.Hawk’s Comment: At long last, something concrete and “actionable” from Erdogan. The demand that there be no “corridor” is a relatively minimalistic demand, considering what his initial war aims in Syria were. He seems to have acquiesced to the fact there will be Syrian Kurdish autonomies on the border with Turkey–he just doesn’t want there to be one big Kurdish autonomy, out of fear that would destabilize the situation on the other side of the border. From the perspective of the survival of Turkish state (and his own political survival), Erdogan cannot be made to look like he was defeated by the Kurds and their international supporters which are now mainly Russia, but also the US who stood by Kurdish forces in spite of Erdogan’s blackmail. Naturally, the details would still have to be worked out, but turning over the area between the Kurdish enclaves to some “moderate opposition” faction (which might actually be, at this point, a faction that re-joined Assad’s forces in recent months) would allow Erdogan to pull out of Turkey in a face-saving manner. Given the all-round rejection of his plans for no-fly zones, security zones, NATO ground operations, etc., and the unpredictable consequences of a military clash with Russia, he has little else to hope for.