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Centre of National Security and Foreign Policy Researches|12 Şubat 2018 Monday

The Olive Branch Offered To Afrin

Erol Başaran Bural tarafından yazıldı.


Operation Olive Branch is launched

For about more than a year now, the operation with the intention to remove the existence of the terrorist organization PKK/PYD in Afrin is launched on the date of 20 January 2018 under the name of ‘‘Operation Olive Branch’’. According to the statements made by Turkish Armed Forces; ‘‘With the intention of building the stability and security on our borders and in the region, ‘‘Operation Olive Branch’’ dated 20 January 2018/17:00, is launched in order to defuse the PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and DAESH terrorists and to liberate the fellow locals from the oppression and repression of the mentioned terrorist groups.’’

By looking at the name of the operation Turkey delivers the message of having no intentions to occupy the Syrian land, taking necessary actions to assure the stability in the region after the elimination of the terrorist organization that greatly interfere with the peace in the region and finally, return the lands to the righteous owners; to Syrians.

There are many strategic points in the message of the operation published by Turkish Armed Forces. The first of them is about the intention, in relation to the name of the operation, is to ensure the stability and security of the region. The second one is highlighting that the objective of the Turkish Armed Forces is to defuse DAESH, as well as the PKK. The third important point is to re-assure the legitimacy of the operation while underlining the international law basis. The fourth of all is the emphasis of the territorial integrity of Syria. With this emphasis, Turkey, yet again, refers to not having the intention of occupying and undertaking the region of Afrin while pointing out the original purpose of PKK/PYD which is splitting the country of Syria. The fifth and final point reiterating the fact that the terrorist organizations attempt to invade the region of Afrin and that Turkey acts responsively in order to not hurt the civilians of the region.  


Opinions about the D-Day

On the very first day of the operation, we observe that the pre-confirmed targets of the terrorist organizations are hit with heavy airstrikes. Once again, the second statement of Turkish Armed Forces regarding the operation remarks that 108 targets are hit by 72 combat aircrafts. It is necessary to underline the success behind the execution of numerous simultaneous operations with a vast amount of airstrikes hitting targets right on points with no announced civilian casualty whatsoever.

We can see that the first ground operation is launched for destroying the weapon pits and shelter carriers of the members of PKK/PYD entrenched in rural regions. It is a great possibility that the members of the terrorist organization will try to stall the Turkish troops and defend the critical terrain obstructions counting on the reliance that they are able to stop the units of Turkish Armed Forces. It is clear that as long as the airstrikes proceed, the members of the terrorist organization will try to retain the rural land by retreating to residential areas and accept conflicts with Turkish Armed Forces in populated districts.

From open sources intelligences, it is also known that the PKK/PYD is approaching to populated districts and entrenching defenses in these locations, ditching trenches, setting up barricades, planning ambushes with Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and digging tunnels. In case of the retreatment of the clashes towards populated districts, the operation might have a deceleration for taking necessary precautions in order to prevent harm towards civilians and combat with IED might rise to prominence. 

One of the FAQs appears within the context of operation progress is about the duration of the operation. When will the operation be done? Instead of focusing on the duration, the finalization of the operation with minimum casualty should be prioritized. Within this scope, it should be considered that the Turkish Armed Forces would prefer to finalize the operation in the soonest possible yet would not want to make a mistake under the constant pressure of duration. Until the PKK/PYD existence in the region is removed, the finalization of the operation while having all of our soldiers and members of the FSA in a whole skin should be accepted as the essential objective.


Measures to be taken

Although it is quite early to voice opinions in the context of the operation, indications should point out that the key aspect of the operation is to focus on phase of clearing out the populated districts. Thus it becomes vitally important to isolate the members of the terrorist organizations by surrounding them within the populated districts where conflicts may happen, take strict considerations on threats of IEDs, neutralization of trenches, barricades and tunnels with the delicacy of a surgeon so that civilian casualties don’t occur.

Another emerged crucial issue is about the fact that the advanced weaponry supplied to the terrorist organization PKK/PYD might be used against Turkish Armed Forces. It must be bearded in mind that both for the land forces -commando and spec. ops.- and for armored units PKK/PYD has advanced anti-armor weaponry that might be used and for the air forces and especially -if the necessity of usage arises- helicopters, they also have missiles; it is critically significant to take necessary and intact measures for mentioned threats.

It would be advantageous to revise the strategic communication management on the level of state, ensure the information of the media agencies and encourage those agencies to self-control and regulate the broadcasts and publishments that might endanger the operation. Correlatively, while keeping the might of media in mind, instead of informing about the probable proceedings of the forces, the usage of strategic delusion in exigence should be underlined as well.

Related to the topic, it can be clearly seen that the support of psychological operation is also required for the complete operation. Prior to such important and effective operations, at least correspondingly to airstrikes on the very first day of the operation; the locals should have been informed by leaflets, a message including the precautions taken to protect the civilians with the words of persuasion for the members of the terrorist organization to down their arms, should have been delivered via aerial assets.  

Last but not least, during the preceding of the Operation Olive Branch, the possibility of terror actions by PKK initially on the border lines of Şırnak-Hakkâri to distract attention and also to retaliate must be taken into consideration. Tightening the countrywide security measures especially in metropolis’ while the law enforcements raise the alert levels and perpetually keeping the counter-terrorism operations on track should become a must.

The units participating in the operation have gained lots of experiences from both the operations in domestic populated districts and the operation of Euphrates Shield. The mentioned distinguished units possess the essential equipment, weaponries, combat materials, the state of mind and the courage. Over and above, the Turkish nation has utter faith in the prosperous finalization-to-come of the operation. May the God's blessings be upon our troops.

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