June 30
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Turkey has threatened another invasion of Syria, similar to those in October 2019 and January 2018, leading to widespread ethnic cleansing of Kurds, Yazidis and other minorities, Jpost reported.

According to the author, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara is planning a new military operation. This could lead to demographic change as the government has promised to return Syrian refugees, mostly Arabs, to the safety zone it wants to create.

In the past, Ankara's incursions have resulted in Kurds and other minorities being persecuted and forced to flee, and extremist groups have seized Turkish-controlled territories.

Turkey's far-right regime, which combines radical nationalism and religious fundamentalism, has promised to create a "safe zone" along the border. It is similar to the "safety zone" created in October 2019 when 200,000 people fled due to its invasion of eastern Syria.

At the time, Ankara had a close relationship with the Trump administration and received a green light from the White House to invade and attack the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed group. In a series of bizarre events, Washington opened the door to its "NATO ally" Turkey to attack the very people America was also training to fight ISIS.

The White House has said Turkey will fight ISIS and the US will withdraw from Syria. The Trump administration has been so rebuffed by Congress and members of the administration that it has reversed course. But the damage was done, the border region was destroyed and key civilians such as Hevrin Khalaf, a young female politician, were killed by Turkish-backed extremists.

Ankara calls these people in Syria “terrorists,” a term it uses for anyone who criticizes or opposes the ruling AKP party. Usually these are journalists, women's and gay rights activists, youth, intellectuals, teachers, students, artists, Kurds, Yezidis, Christian minorities and others.

For example, in Afrin, a Kurdish region that Turkey invaded in Syria in January 2018, about 160,000 Kurds were expelled from their homes. Yazidi temples were destroyed, cemeteries desecrated, and then the area was turned into a haven for extremists sent by Ankara to Syria. Extremist groups, some of which are linked to former Syrian rebel groups, are kidnapping women and accused by the US, the UN and others of human rights violations.

One of these groups even came under US sanctions. This means that Ankara, which claims to be a "NATO ally", supports extremists and groups associated with terrorists, while claiming to be "fighting terrorists."

Now, with Ankara's ruling party facing elections next year, it appears to be paving the way for even more chaos in Syria.

Ankara's goal is to destabilize areas liberated from ISIS control and clear the borders of minorities. This historical ethnic cleansing is similar to what was done in Turkey in 1915 during the Armenian Genocide and subsequent genocide and massacres of Christian communities.

Ankara did this before in Cyprus when it invaded in the 1970s and expelled Greek minorities from its northern regions. Ethnic cleansing in Afrin, Sere Kania and other border areas in 2018 and 2019 changed historical settlement patterns, displacing indigenous minorities. This is similar to what happened in the Balkans in the 1990s, except that Ankara used its NATO membership to claim that it needed "security".

Turkey also supports extremist groups that frequently shell Tel Tamr and Christian minority areas in eastern Syria. He also conducts bombing raids on Sinjar in Iraq, where Yazidi genocide survivors live. Ankara has also bombed Christian villages in northern Iraq, claiming to be "fighting terrorists."

Ironically, the regime's "war on terror" always targets minorities in the Middle East.

The threat of a new invasion has emerged as Turkey tries to prevent Finland and Sweden from joining NATO. These two democracies are now threatened by Ankara's authoritarian government and must expel dissidents and bow to its demands or they will not be able to join the Western alliance.

This strange turn of events means that NATO now revolves around whatever Turkey wants. The NATO defensive alliance has been implicated in Ankara's incursions and abuses in Syria.

“We will soon take new steps regarding the incomplete portions of the project we started on the 30 km.-deep safe zone we established along our southern border,” Turkey’s president said this week. 

Ankara's threats came after Turkey criticized the Greek prime minister as well as the US for easing sanctions on eastern Syria. 

It is obvious that now the regime is changing its policy from trying to reconcile with Greece to putting forward new threats.

In 2019 and 2020, Ankara also threatened Athens. This policy continued until US President Joe Biden was elected, after which course changed. This is because Turkey's ruling party has lobbyists in Washington, including those with influence in several important think tanks, who have sought to influence the Trump administration.

In those days, the Ankara lobby claimed that Turkey was an ally against Russia and Iran, even though Turkey bought the Russian S-400 missile defense system and worked with Iran. Turkey is now in the spotlight because of the Ukrainian crisis, as it appears to be working with both Moscow and Kyiv. Turkey sold drones to Ukraine, but buys S-400s. She also wants to buy more US military aircraft, but is outraged that some countries have sanctioned her for violations in Syria.

In 2021, Ankara moved towards reconciliation, first with Egypt and the UAE, and later with Israel, hoping to make new friends in Washington with this new policy. For example, the regime has mobilized its embassy in the US to work with pro-Israeli voices and hopes that by working with Israel, it will be able to make new strides.

To this end, Ankara invited Israeli President Isaac Herzog to visit earlier this year and is working with the Jewish state, including sending its foreign minister this week.

The question remains whether Ankara will try to trade Finland's and Sweden's accession to NATO for another carte blanche from the defensive alliance for its "security", which means another invasion. Ankara tends to say that for its own "security" it must invade other countries and force people to flee. Russia used the same pretext to invade Ukraine.

It is unclear whether the Biden administration will withstand Turkey's threats. Ankara also promised a new invasion last year, but seems to have given up.

Turkey abandoned its promised invasion in November 2021. Will she back down again? It's not clear that Ankara has promised to deport millions of Syrian refugees and seems to believe it can achieve two goals at once: remove Syrian refugees and destroy Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria, fueling populism at home and harming adversaries abroad.

Turkey may also try to harm new American initiatives in eastern Syria and at the same time use this to blackmail NATO. It is not clear if Ankara can actually do all this, but it will probably try.

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