‘Kurds vs Turkey’ in six wars ongoing in Syria, says Kerry

‘Kurds vs Turkey’ in six wars ongoing in Syria, says Kerry

The Syrian theater is in fact staging six wars between different forces, one of which is between the Syrian Kurds and Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech delivered at an Oct. 4 meeting organized by the German Marshall Fund in Brussels. 

“That presents a Syria with a splintered opposition, filled with different complex forces. Sometimes I say this is a place which may be hosting six different wars all at the same time. Kurds vs. Kurds, Kurds vs. Turkey, Shiite vs. Sunni, people vs. DAESH [the Arabic acronym of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant], people vs. [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Persians, Arabs,” Kerry said, describing the complexity of the Syrian unrest. 

“We have to persist in our effort to end the conflict in Syria, which is a battleground that has been a magnate for terrorism and the worst humanitarian disaster since World War II. As we know, this tragic war has been made worse by the utter depravity of the regime, which still does not hesitate to use gas, mixed with other ingredients, to kill its own citizens,” he added. 

In his speech Kerry also renewed calls to Moscow for a resumption of the cessation of hostilities, as hopes fade over finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis. 

Apart from his general evaluation on Syria, his citing of the “Kurds vs. Turkey” conflict reflects the deep concern that Washington has over the course of developments, especially since Turkish troops launched a cross-border operation into northern Syria.

Having entered the 40th day of the Euphrates Shield Operation, Turkey now controls an area of around 1,000-square kilometers, with an objective to go further south to push ISIL from Turkish borders and to prevent the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) from linking its Afrin and Kobane cantons. 
There seems to be a wider recognition of Ankara’s concerns in the U.S. on why these two cantons should not be linked and why attempts to change the demography in this part of Syria would further complicate the situation.        

In Ankara, however, another growing concern is the further advance of regime troops in Aleppo, which would further weaken the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and result in the collapse of the opposition’s resistance in Syria’s most strategic city. After the potential re-capture of Aleppo, regime forces are believed to be targeting Idlib, another northwestern town that is one of the few strongholds of the opposition forces. 

This offensive would not only create a new refugee influx toward the Turkish border but it also would bring Turkish troops physically closer to regime forces, further increasing the volatility and complexity of the Syrian conflict. 

It’s quite interesting to see the spreading of the conflict inside Syria between different forces at a time when everyone’s enemy, ISIL, has been losing territory and influence.

That is also one reason why Turkey is now undertaking an initiative to push Moscow and Washington to resume talks for the cessation of hostilities. It will surely be one of the key topics discussed between the Turkish and Russian presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin, on the latter’s visit to Turkey next week.