The Afrin operation, which dealt a heavy blow to the PKK's Syrian affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG), is a major victory for Turkey. Apart from suffering major losses, the YPG was greatly demoralized. Moreover, while it was said that there would be great resistance in the city center, even the top commanders left the city before the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and Free Syrian Army (FSA) entered the city. This notable success is crucial for both Turkey's own security and its power concerning Syrian developments. Indeed, U.S. rhetoric, which is becoming moderate, and developments regarding Manbij are proof of this.On the other hand, the most important heroes of the deserved pride of this victory are the soldiers who have been fighting in the field. While the mopping up still continues in the city, the great struggle is ongoing not only there, but also in cross-border operations. There are hundreds of TSK members risking their lives and serving in the challenging region. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave an excellent surprise on Sunday to both celebrate the Afrin victory and boost the morale of the soldiers. This was a surprise in the strictest sense.
A group of journalists, including me, were invited to attend the president's program in Hatay. Turkey's leading singers, actors, organizers, football players, basketball players and other athletes who have worldwide success were also invited.
The plane took off from Istanbul around noon. The enthusiasm inside was worth seeing. Many celebrities were very enthusiastic and were singing songs because of the heroism of the Turkish military in Afrin.
We met a big crowd when we landed in the city. The people of Hatay came out to the streets to see the celebrities they knew from television. Let me point out that Hatay is a city with intense migration from Syria. It is already intertwined with Syria and a little beyond Idlib. Such intense displacement does not create any unrest. They form a good example of living together.
After a warm welcome in the city, we went to lunch and then headed for the border police station, which was the reason we went to the city. The Oğulpınar Border Police Station is located on a hill where operations start. It is such a fabulous and beautiful region that conflicts and wars never fit it.We traveled in the countryside for about one-and-a-half hours and arrived at the situation on that hill with three buses full of people, including celebrities, athletes and journalists. When we entered the station, soldiers were waiting in line accompanied by their commanders.After a while, Erdoğan came with Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar. In the first place, however, we had difficulty recognizing the president, who was wearing a military fatigues. This was a big surprise to all of us, especially the soldiers.Erdoğan made a beautiful speech with emotion that honored those who have been struggling there. After this speech, we went to the dining hall in the station, drank tea, chatted and sang songs. While singing his song "Yaylalar" (Highlands) along with soldiers, İbrahim Tatlıses referred to Manbij accompanied by the president and the chief of the General Staff. This was probably a moment to be recorded in history.Sometimes it might be hard to understand Turkey from the outside. I think what happened at that station last Sunday is very important to understand Turkey. It was quite striking in terms of showing social sensitivities and how many different sections of society have adopted a joint stance on Afrin.