Tristan Leoni’s comments (who is the author of the series of texts “Caliphate and Barbarity”) published in French on https://ddt21.noblogs.org/?page_id=1906#comment-4276
Since January20th, Turkey has launched the Operation “Olive Branch” against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin with the support of several Syrian Islamist militias (some of them with the FSA label). The Turkish offensive is no surprise: clashes between YPG and pro-Turks had been commonplace for months, and for several weeks the Turkish army had been deploying troops and equipment around the enclave. For their part, the YPG prepared for this while building fortifications and tunnels on their borders.
48 hours before launching their operation, the Turkish generals went to Moscow; it was at least to obtain Russia’s non-intervention, which controlled Syrian airspace and had troops in Afrin to prevent (by their presence) a Turkish attack. 24 hours before the attack the Russian soldiers left Afrin.
The PYD sought to forge contradictory alliances with various actors in the Syrian conflict (Washington, Moscow and Damascus), which could not last.The YPGs have come much too close to the Americans who are pushing them towards a quasi-secession of territory (which is not initially the PYD project) with various projects: training an army of border guards of 30,000 fighters in the Rojava, financial aid for reconstruction and the “nation building”. A matter to make Damascus and Moscow angrier.
For them, the Turkish attack is an opportunity to remind the Kurds of the real balance of power in the region. The arrival of YPG reinforcements (from eastern Syria) was only possible thanks to the support of Damascus, which allowed them to transit through the Loyalist zones.
From the very first days of Operation “Olive Branch”there was increasing speculation about discussions between the Assad’s regime, Russia and the YPG for an intervention of the Syrian army in Afrin to stop the Turkish offensive. It wouldn’t be surreal. Already in March 2016, during the Operation “Euphrates Shield”, the YPG had given several areas to the west of Manbij up to Assad’s troops in order to stop the Turkish offensive (at the same time as the American troops were deploying to the north of Manbij).
The Turkish offensive is more likely to create a security buffer along the border than to conquer the entire Afrin enclave; but since the beginning, the FSA and Turkish armed forces (TAF) are marking time. The YPG had plenty of time to fortify their borders with networks of tunnels and bunkers, and they also use the anti-tank missiles offered by the Western armies. Nevertheless, Afrin is not Kobane: if in 2014 the YPG had succeeded in repelling the troops of the Islamic state, it was mainly thanks to the support of the American air force and special forces (if not the city would have fallen). The same is not true of Afrin, where the YPG are the ones that are being bombed by the air. Despite fierce resistance, YPG troops are condemned to gradually retreat from the Turkish army and its back-up troops, and civilians are condemned to flee to the areas held by Damascus. Hence the search for a political solution or an external support that becomes urgent. This time the American cavalry won’t come to the rescue. The arrival of the Syrian Loyalist army is therefore a possibility; but it will not be “gratuitous” and, if so, the YPG will have to renounce their authority over the enclave of Afrin in exchange.
T.L. February 19th, 2018