Erdogan Wants a Turkish Enclave to Span Syria and Iraq

The Turkish military has started deploying tanks and other armored vehicles from the 28th Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Ankara to the Silopi area near the Iraqi-Syrian-Turkish border junction, 100km north of Mosul.
Video footage on Tuesday, Nov. 1 showed hundreds of armored vehicles driving in convoy in the direction of the Iraqi border, three days after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced he would reinforce his troop deployments in that location.
His words were meant as a deterrent against an Iraqi Shiite assault to free Tel Afar from ISIS, with Tehran’s blessing. This town’s predominantly Turkmen population has historic and cultural ties with Turkey.
“If al-Hashid al-Shaabi [Shiite militia] causes terror there [in Tel Afar], our response will be different,” The Turkish leader said on Oct. 29.
Shaking his fist against the Turks, Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said in Baghdad: “The invasion of Iraq will lead to Turkey being dismantled.”
He went on to say: “We do not want a war with Turkey, but if a confrontation happens, we are ready for it. We will consider [Turkey] an enemy and deal with it as an enemy,” Abadi said.
But meanwhile, the Turkish tank force has stopped short of the Iraqi border, claiming that Iraqi Shiites are still a long way from Tel Afar.
In Syria, too, the president may have bitten off more than the Turkish army can chew.
After invading northern Syria on Aug. 24, Erdogan declared his goal was to cut out a 5,000 sq. km segment for a Turkish security zone.
By the first week of November, the Turks had secured just 1,270 sq. km.
And whereas Erdogan and his ministers and generals loudly reiterated for weeks that their capture of the town of Al-Bab from ISIS and the ouster of the Kurdish YPG from Manbij were imminent – both are still up in the air.
Both were part of the Turkish president’s grand design to stretch a Turkish-controlled strip, 400km long, from Al-Bab in northern Syria over to Tel Afar in northern Iraq. (See attached map.)
That strip was to function as a lever for keeping Turkey’s hand in the war on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and its control over the land crossings between the two countries, which is coveted by Iran.
Another object was the preemption of steps by Iraq’s self-governing Kurdish region (KRG)’s to annex territory in northern Iraq, and go forward towards full independence.
The Syrian Kurds’ independence drive was meanwhile thwarted by the Turkish military invasion of northern Syria.
Despite his obsession with cutting down the Kurds, Erdogan is cautiously holding back from executing his master plan until he finds out who the next American president is – or rather, until Jan. 20 when he or she is sworn in.
He can’t be sure either where, in the final reckoning, he stands with Vladimir Putin.
DEBKA Weekly
’s sources add: Erdogan has reason to believe that Putin is not averse to Turkey carving out a security zone stretching from Syria to Iraq, but he will have caveats. For instance, the Russian ruler won’t hear of the Turkish air force spreading an umbrella over the two segments of the security strip. The Russian president has already made it clear that no other foreign air force, including Turkey, may use Syrian air space. On Oct. 22, Ankara halted its air cover for the Turkish ground incursion of northern Syria after Damascus threatened to shoot down any Turkish Air Force jets passing through Syrian skies.
In Iraq, Turkey faces a different setup. Its air force will have to arrange to coordinate its flights with the American forces there.

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