Possible humanitarian costs, PKK threat may force Turkey to take action in Idlib

Published 06.09.2018 21:42

The PKK threat and humanitarian cost in northwestern Syria's Idlib, which could possibly grow after an offensive, is forcing Turkey to take action in the region, experts said.

A panel on possible scenarios in Idlib was organized by the Ankara-based think tank, the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) yesterday with the participation of Middle East experts.

One of the experts, Can Acun, indicated that there are four scenarios that Turkey can consider. "Two options will erase the progress made in the Geneva and Astana talks, eliminating any possibility for a political solution," he said, adding that these scenarios would lead to Turkey's de facto withdrawal from observation posts in Idlib, leaving the area at the hands of the regime forces, Iran and Russia. Commenting on two other possible scenarios, he stressed that Ankara may take military action with or without moderate opposition forces to push Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) out of Idlib. "Since Russia is pointing to the HTS as a pretext to legitimize its offensive in Idlib, pushing the HTS will eliminate these justifications and open the area for a political solution."

In relation to the same issue, Murat Yeşiltaş, an academic at Ankara Social Sciences University, touched upon the eagerness of the regime to train PKK forces and pointed out that Turkey's top priority is to ensure control over areas liberated by Operation Olive Branch and Operation Euphrates Shield. He further underlined that he still believes in a possible political solution if the security of the parties' military bases is ensured.

"Turkey should differentiate the moderate opposition forces from the HTS very clearly and eliminate the HTS in Idlib. A military operation by Turkey against the HTS is unlikely to happen. Therefore, Turkey should gain time to negotiate with Russia and end the HTS presence with Russia," said Yeşiltaş.

Experts also reiterated that the future of Idlib cannot be foreseen until the tripartite summit held today in Tehran with the participation of the presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran.

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