CHP urges diplomacy before military operation is launched into Afrin
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has urged the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to resort to diplomacy before launching any military operation into Syria’s Afrin, stressing that an international agreement is necessary.
“If diplomacy is used, an agreement is reached, and aerial support is also provided, the problem can be solved. Otherwise, the problem would grow bigger and its cost for Turkey would be hefty,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Jan. 19 in Ankara.
His comments came at a time when Ankara is readying for a military operation into Syria’s northwestern province of Afrin, which is currently controlled by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The U.S.-led international coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) announced on Jan. 14 that they would establish a 30,000-strong new border security force with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) along Turkey’s southern border with Syria, an announcement which was strongly objected by Ankara.
Kılıçdaroğlu criticized AKP officials’ statements on the imminent military operation in Afrin, saying that any offensive against the city would be “costly.”
“Afrin is not like al-Bab,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, referring to an earlier operation that took place in the northern Syrian city of al-Bab, 30 kilometers from the Turkish border, as a part of the Euphrates Shield operation in February 2017.
The Euphrates Shield operation was carried out between August 2016 and March 2017 and aimed to push ISIL jihadists from Turkey’s border and stem the advance of the YPG, which Ankara views as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
“In the al-Bab operation there was an international agreement. The United States, Russia, Iran and Syria in a sense had accepted it. We went to al-Bab but 72 of our soldiers were martyred. Now they are calling for war on Afrin,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“First you have to force diplomacy to prevail. In this manner, the effort of Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and MİT [National Intelligence Organization] Undersecretary Hakan Fidan is noteworthy,” Kılıçdaroğlu added, referring to the intelligence and military chiefs visit to Moscow on Jan. 18 for a meeting with Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov.
“Any operation in Afrin without aerial support will be very costly,” he said.