Turkey prepared for international opposition to its military operation - columnist

Turkey will meet black propaganda and tough international resistance to its military operation in northeast Syria, but President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government is well prepared to overcome it, columnist Hande Fırat wrote for pro-government daily Hürriyet on Friday.

The Turkish military launched Operation Peace Spring against Kurdish-led groups in northeast Syria on Wednesday, days after U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to pull back American soldiers during a conversation with Erdoğan.

U.S. lawmakers have been up in arms over the offensive, which targets the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led group that has played a key role in the U.S.-backed fight against the Islamic State.

Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen shared a draft bill on Wednesday that if passed would impose tough sanctions on Erdoğan and top ministers from his cabinet, as well as the country’s military and energy sectors.

The European Union and several European leaders have condemned the operation, which German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said would further destabilise the region and risk an Islamic State resurgence.

But Turkey’s government has options to address opposition from the United States and Europe – it could close İncirlik, an important airbase in southern Turkey used by the United States in regional operations, or it could go through with its threat to allow millions of refugees to enter Europe, said Fırat.

Turkey can also count on support from Trump, who has shielded Erdoğan from the U.S. Congress in previous disputes, she said.

Trump admitted on Wednesday that the United States, by working with the SDF, had made a deal with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a group whose fight for Kurdish self-rule has made it a mortal enemy of the Turkish state and earned it designation as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and Washington.

Those opposing the military operation now are the same that supported Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, who began dealing with the Syrian Kurdish groups, Fırat said.

Moreover, a high-level source in Ankara has said the wave of international criticism of the Turkish operation would be short-lived, and fears that Turkey’s operation would lead to ethnic cleansing and massacres would be allayed once its aims became more clear, Fırat said.

In the meantime, Turkey will use every platform, including foreign media outlets, to answer black propaganda against it, including the accusations that it will target civilians and Christians and propagate ethnic cleansing and demographic engineering, she said.