The Impact of Turkey’s Afrin Operation on U.S.-Kurdish Stability Operations

The Impact of Turkey’s Afrin Operation on U.S.-Kurdish Stability Operations by Patrick Hoover - Georgetown Security Studies Review

On January 20, the Turkish army, with Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies, launched Operation Olive Branch to clear the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria. Ankara’s chief strategic objectives include eliminating the Syrian Kurdish militia’s People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their political partner, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which are defending Afrin; ensuring Turkish control of the Syrian-Turkish border from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea; and linking Turkish zones of control in Aleppo and Idlib provinces. Ankara views the YPG as an ideological and operational extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Turkish-Kurdish entity that has waged an intermittent insurgency against the Turkish state for nearly 40 years. The YPG, on the other hand, claims it is wholly Syrian and committed to defending its autonomous region against Turkey and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) alike…

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