January 26, 2018
The Turkish invasion of Afrin can very much be viewed as an action of no strategic value being committed to appease Recep “Just the Tayyip” Erdogan’s voting base. The real target of choice would be the other much larger Kurdish canton of Kobane/Hasankah to the East, which is well armed and directly borders the predominantly Kurdish region of Turkey (Afrin does not). These are Raqqa Rollers who moved down the Euphrates valley and uprooted ISIS. But victory over the Kobane canton is beyond what the Turks can accomplish: those Kurds are well armed, well organized, battle tested, and perhaps most devastatingly, host thousands of US troops in their territory. Killing a dozen American soldiers immediately puts the Recepticons on ‘Murica!’s shit list, making the SDF forces in Kobane untouchable (at least for the moment).
Afrin the is not an attempt to solve Turkey’s Kurdish security issues. It is a spasm of complete frustration that plays to AKP party base. Its The Erdogang shouting “look! We’re killing some of those people you hate!” Strategically, the Afrin Kurds were never a threat and never took offensive actions, even against the Assad regime - they gained their freedom when the SAA unilaterally pulled out of Kurdish regions to shorten their defense lines and free up troops. Afrin is a region with almost no value for Turkey - which is demonstrated by the fact that the Turks are using FSA proxy units from the neighboring Al Bab region. And those proxies are largely failing at the job, while the rather overwhelmingly large and well equipped Turkish army proper could actually do the job right. Afrin isn’t a vital Turkish security interest; it barely even scores as a security interest. Instead Operation Olive Branch (it sounds better in Turkish) is a war on the cheap to achieve the dubious goal of appeasing ‘red state’ AKP voters, after Erdogan’s cataclysmic foreign policy failures left an armed, organized, US supported Kurdish army directly on the southwestern Turkish border. It is an effort to kill Kurds just for the sake of killing Kurds, while gloating over the grisly result.