Turkey might have claimed that it was fully committed to defeating Daesh and wanted to help Syria establish peace, but Ankara’s priorities lie elsewhere, its top one being to prevent Syrian Kurds from gaining autonomy, journalist and research assistant at Sydney University Stuart Rollo told RT.
Kurdish autonomy in Syria, according to Ankara, could have a domino effect.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is concerned that it could spark other separatist movements in the region, particularly within Turkey, at a time when authorities have mounted a military campaign against Kurdish militants, prompting many to say that the country is on the verge of a civil war.
“So, [Daesh] comes second in Syria at the moment to Turkey,” Rollo noted. But the terrorist group and the fighters considered to be the most efficient ground force battling it are linked in Ankara’s mind.
Ankara measures its anti-Daesh efforts in terms of how they impact on the Kurds. “I think that as long as it seems to Turkey that the result of defeating [Daesh] will be strengthening the Kurdish forces in Syria then that is going to be a bigger problem to them than [Daesh],” Rollo observed.
Ankara has been carrying out airstrikes against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since mid-2015 when the ceasefire between the government and the militant organization was scrapped. At the same time, Turkey’s involvement in the anti-Daesh fight has been limited, although it is a member of both the US- and Saudi-led coalitions aimed at destroying the terrorist group.
“Well, Ankara’s main priority is to prevent separatism within Turkey, which are Kurdish political parties and forces, and also to establish, to strengthen, the Sunni Arab opposition in Syria and to make sure that they are in a position to dictate the terms of whatever peace eventually does come to Syria,” Rollo noted.