Turkey’s combative president is threatening to launch a military operation in northeastern Syria that is designed to push back U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish forces — an invasion that carries major risks for a highly combustible region in war-devastated Syria. An operation would mark the third Turkish incursion into Syria in the past four years — all seeking to limit the growing influence of Syrian Kurdish fighters, which Turkey views as terrorist along its border. Turkish and American military officials were meeting Monday and Tuesday in Ankara for last-ditch negotiations amid warnings from Turkish officials about a military buildup. Here’s a look at what Turkey wants and what could happen if it invades northern Syria: WHAT DOES TURKEY WANT? Turkey wants to establish a safe zone 19 to 25 miles (30 to 40 kilometers) deep east of the Euphrates River in Syria, all the way to the Iraqi border. That effectively amounts to almost all the territory in northeastern Syria that is currently controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, America’s only partners on the ground in Syria. This has deeply infuriated Turkey and been a major source of tensions between Washington and Ankara in the past few years. With U.S. backing, the SDF has spearheaded the fight against the Islamic State group on the ground, announcing the territorial defeat of the extremist group in March. Turkey considers the YPG an existential threat and as
An Istanbul court on Wednesday acquitted the Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) as well as two other campaigners for press freedom on trial for terrorism charges, their lawyers said. RSF representative Erol Onderoglu, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey president Sebnem Korur Fincanci and author Ahmet Nesin were jailed briefly in 2016 but later released as their trial continued. The defendants were accused of carrying out terrorist propaganda and incitement to crime after guest-editing Ozgur Gundem, a newspaper on Kurdish issues, and campaigning against efforts to censor it. Lawyer Meric Eyuboglu said the verdict was bittersweet because others who also guest-edited the newspaper had received jail sentences. “We were thinking that they would receive a sentence because of the verdicts in other similar cases and the political juncture we are going through,” she said. “We had a surprise today and they were acquitted,” added the lawyer, who represented Fincanci. Eyuboglu said Onderoglu also faces a separate legal case for supporting academics put on trial for signing a letter calling for an end to the conflict between Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). “GREAT VICTORY” Paris-based RSF welcomed the verdict but called for charges in the separate case against Onderoglu to be dropped. “We are deeply relieved by @ErolOnderoglu’s and his colleague’s acquittal. BUT 3 years of absurd proceedings was already a form of unjust punishment,” it said on Twitter. Ozgur Gundem was closed down under a crackdown during a state of emergency after an abortive coup
Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci were meeting for the first time in about six months, but they stopped short of announcing the resumption of peace talks that collapsed last year. The leaders had a “frank exchange of views” on the way forward, they said in a joint statement after meeting at a United Nations compound on the island on early on Friday.
“No one would imagine that in today’s world and in this century, we would witness such an organized murder, with an apparatus organizing such a heinous killing,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting, referring to the findings in the case of Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi consulate on October 2, but never emerged.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom announced early Monday, to express condolences for the death of the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal’s entourage.
“Why did these 15 people come here? Why were 18 people arrested? All of this needs to be explained in all its details,” Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
“The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate,” one of the two Turkish officials told Reuters.
The Turkish sources did not say how they believed the killing was carried out.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for a ceasefire in the rebel-held region of Idlib in northwest Syria on Friday and said an anticipated government assault on insurgents there could result in a massacre. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said Moscow opposed a truce, and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani said Syria must regain control over all its territory.