The World

Jan 18, 2018

Turkey sets the stage for its invasion of Kurdish Syria

The long-anticipated Turkish invasion of Kurdistan is looking like it will soon be a reality, set to mark a new relationship with the US, which has been backing Kurdish fighters for years. And that's not the only aftershock the region will feel, writes Professor Damien Kingsbury.

Professor Damien Kingsbury

Crikey international affairs commentator

It has been a long time coming, but Turkey was never going to tolerate an independent Kurdish military on its border. In the face of of the United States helping the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) establish a 30,000-strong anti-Islamic State "border security force" in northern Syria, Turkey has massed forces along the northern Syrian border, started shelling Kurdish-Syrian territory and, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is preparing to invade.

Who are the players here?

A little under 20% of Turkey’s population is Kurdish, concentrated in its east, and Turkey has long resisted -- sometimes brutally -- attempts at Kurdish independence. There is also a small ethnic Turk population in northern Syria, which Turkey has armed and supported against other groups, including Islamic State and the YPG. 

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6 thoughts on “Turkey sets the stage for its invasion of Kurdish Syria

  1. Tony Ward

    Thank you for a useful overview of a complex and fragile situation. One point – it seems difficult to credit “the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which carved the current borders from the region, which contributed to the Armenian Genocide” as the genocide happened 6-8 years earlier, 1915-17.

    1. Xoanon

      I was thinking that too. Date mix-up.

  2. Richard Shortt

    NATO ‘Turkxit’ followed by a military alliance between Russia and Turkey. With Syria in tatters, Iraq in rebuild mode and knobbled by IS and the US completely distracted by North Korea and internal squabbling (as well as lacking true leadership), Turkey has no further need for NATO. With its EU ambitions in shreds, aligning with Putin offers plenty of opportunity.

    1. old greybearded one

      Have you noticed how Russia is moving into the vacant US space? Trump’s plan is a one state solution which means complete apartheid and Kushner’s family developing the West Bank as his old man already does. Vlad must be laughing himself to death.

  3. cp

    The US admits to having about 2000 troops in Syria. They were dicussing surface to air missile deliveries to to the Kurds, amongst other assistance. Let’s hope we don’t get sucked into this festoring boil when it bursts. Recent history suggests we’ll sign up.

  4. AR

    Typical cut’n’paste from this writer who, as usual, gets thing arse up because he has no grasp of the blocks of prose he shuffles, trying to follow the script from Langley VA.
    The US via NATO and the deluded EU wannabe hegemon courted Turkey for decades despite/because of its military coups and now gets the vapours when Sultan Erdogan the Magnificent turns north for a new thrill.
    This one will run & run. Pray that we don’t join in.

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