Turkey announced the end of operation «Euphrates Shield». But was the game worth the candle?
Of course, the Official Ankara reported on full and unconditional success. “As a result of the special operation, more than 2,000 square kilometres have been liberated in the north of Syria. At the moment local residents are coming back home, while control over the territory has been passed to the Free Syrian Army,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said. However, success is measured not by the size of the captured territory, but by the fulfillment of the goals, which were set before the start of the operation.
Ankara fulfilled some goals, for example, rejected the ISIS militants from the Turkish borders.
Another important goal was the rise of Erdogan’s rating. The Turkish president will have the most important constitutional referendum in his political career, after which he`ll either become a president with extremely broad powers (in fact he will be a sultan) or he`ll demonstrate his weakness and he`ll be forced to fend off emboldened opponents both inside and outside the country.
It goes without saying, Turkey’s military victories in Syria (which are replicated and hypertrophied by the Turkish media controlled by Erdogan) increase the reputation of the head of state, and hence the chances of a successful outcome of the referendum associated with Erdogan.
At first glance, the next successfully accomplished goal can be considered a plan to prevent the creation of a single territorial Kurdish zone along the Turkish-Syrian border. Now due to the territory of the “Greens” (Syrian militants from the Free Syrian Army, which controlled by Turkey), Kurdish enclaves were divided into two parts.
However, not everything is so simple. At first, the Kurds related with the Syrians, and the Kurdish territories communicate through the territory controlled by Bashar Assad.
Secondly, the Turks failed to inflict a serious military defeat on the Kurds and force them out for the Euphrates – the Americans and Russians came to help the Kurds.
Actually, the operation ” Euphrates Shield ” was discontinued because the Turkish army reached the limits of territorial expansion. From the East and West the Turkish-controlled territory is surrounded by “untouchable” Kurds. To the south is the Syrian army, that used the war of Turkey against the ISIS group to release a significant part of the province of Aleppo, and come to the banks of the Euphrates.
It should be noted that due to the occupation of Syrian territory Turkey managed to sharply increase its importance in the Syrian conflict and in some degree to impose on Moscow and Iran its participation in the definition of the post-war arrangement of Syria.
On the other hand, Turkey failed to show «political muscle» to the Americans and, according to Recep Erdogan, to force Washington to make a strategic choice between the support of Turkish allies and Kurdish terrorists. Moreover, it seems that after all America chose the Kurds, supplying them with weapons and entrusting them with the capture of Raqqa. Turkey was left with a piece of Syria.