Experts participating in a panel, organized by the Political, Economic and Social Research Foundation (SETA) in Istanbul Thursday stressed that the Idlib operation is a "peacekeeping operation," that has the intention of preserving the peace in Idlib in accordance with the Astana talks.
During the panel, titled "Idlib operation: Objectives, context and strategic targets," Professor Cengiz Tomar from Marmara University said Turkey has reached an agreement with Russia and Iran following the U.S.'s support for the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG), adding that Turkey has gained the upper hand with the Idlib operation.
Tomar said: "The U.S. could have intervened in Afrin with the intention of positioning the PYD forces there on the pretext of fighting the al-Nusra Front. Turkey's Idlib operation prevented this."
He said the Idlib operation aims to strengthen the Astana agreements regarding forming a de-conflict zone, contending, "After Operation Euphrates Shield, the Idlib operation will be a second move to prevent the disintegration of the Middle East." He added that the operation will also prevent a possible migration influx. "Idlib has a population of 3 million, and in case of turmoil, these 3 million people have nowhere to go, therefore Turkey's control in Idlib is crucial,"said Tomar.
Eray Güçlüer, an academic member of Altınbaş University, said the main objective of the operation is to provide a safe haven to civilians, adding that Turkey, Russia and Iran are cooperating in the region."Beyond the military aspect, the operation firstly aims to protect civilians in Idlib," Güçlüer said. He added that the operation should be seen as a peacekeeping operation in terms of its objectives. Güçlüer said, "As the region becomes more stable, it will be easier to protect the security and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries in the region." He added that the operation will also mount pressure on the PKK/PYD, saying that the PYD is surrounded by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).Stating that it is revealed that the main objective of the U.S is to not bring democracy to Syria, international relations Prof. Hasan Basri Yalçın from Istanbul Commerce University said the U.S has followed a policy aimed at putting pressure on Turkey, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia by turning them against each other in the region. "The U.S. was aiming at creating an attrition war," Yalçın said.
Yalçın added that the situation in Syria has evolved to a point that both parties want to maintain their position, adding that the current phase in which the Idlib operation is conducted is a phase where parties are preparing themselves for a political solution. He also referred to U.S. Ambassador John Bass' speech, in which Bass stated that the cooperation between Turkey and the U.S prevented terror attacks, saying, "The things that prevent terrorist attacks from taking place are Operation Euphrates Shield and Turkey's operations in the southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey."