January 22, 2018

Afrin: “Olive Branch” as a Symbol of War

“Olive Branch” is a symbol of peace, a truce. According to the Bible, a dove brought Noah an olive branch as a sign that God was no longer angry with the people. In the Islamic tradition, the olive tree is the Tree of Life, one of the two forbidden trees in Paradise.


On Saturday, January 20, 2018, at 17.00, after a few days of massive artillery shelling and air strikes on the positions of the Kurdish YPG units the Afrin region, Ankara began the ground phase of the Operation “Olive Branch”. In the first echelon of the troops crossing the Turkish-Syrian border, were the groups of militants of the allied “Free Syrian Army” (FSA).

January 21, 2018, the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News reported that the office of Prime Minister of Turkey Binali Yildirim had announced the purpose of the Operation:

1. To establish control over the territory of Afrin with an area of 10 thousand square kilometers by the “Free Syrian Army” forces.

2. With the help of the Operation “Euphrates Shield” in the Syrian province of Idlib, to completely block the withdrawal of the “Kurdistan Workers’ Party” (PKK) to the Mediterranean coast.

3. To exclude the possibility of Turkey's losing geographic contact with the Arab world.

4. To guarantee the security of the Turkish border with Syria.

5. Not to let Kurdish militants move through the Amanus Range from Syria to the territory of Turkey.

6. To establish control over the Tell Rifaat region and ensure the return of civilians to their homes.

7. To neutralize the USA's military support to terrorist organizations.

Determined as enemies:

1. “Kurdistan Workers' Party” (PKK).

2. “Syrian Kurdish Self-Defense Forces” (YPG).

3. “Kurdish Democratic Union” (PYD, a political association of the Syrian Kurds).

4. Militants of the “Islamic State” (ISIS).

Ankara considers all political and military organizations and parties of the Syrian Kurds “terrorist organizations”.


On the first day of battles, Turkey used 70 aircrafts of the Air Force, which struck 108 targets in seven areas of Afrin. All victims are considered terrorists.

Pushed out by armored vehicles, units of the Kurdish Self-Defense Forces are retreating deep into the territory of Syria. According to different sources, 8 to 10 thousand YPG fighters are defending the Afrin area.

The Command of the Turkish Armed Forces continues to throw units of the Special Forces and armored equipment into the operation area. According to the Daily Sabah, additional forces have been concentrated in the areas of Reyhanli, Kirikhan and Hassa, in the province of Hatay, on the border with Afrin.


The RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made a statement in which it expressed concern about Turkey's operation in the Kurdish Afrin enclave and called on the parties to “exercise restraint”. So much for the guarantees of security and peace in Syria, which Turkey, Iran and the Russian Federation promised to the Syrian people. Russia again, for the nth time, betrayed its ally.


November 19, 2017, town of Abu Kemal were cleared from the “Islamic State” units. This fact was regarded by the world as the end of the self-proclaimed in 2014 Islamic Caliphate.

Against this background, on November 22, 2017, in Sochi, there was a meeting of Presidents of the Islamic Republic of Iran H. Rouhani, of Russia — V. Putin and of Turkey — R. Erdogan. The main theme of the talks was the current situation in Syria and its future. During the consideration of this issue, V. Putin proposed R. Erdogan and H. Rouhani to consider the implementation of a joint comprehensive program for the restoration of Syria.


The main question now is whether Ankara will be able to resolve the issue of Afrin quickly. On the completeness of this resolving also depends another issue — of Manbij. On the eve of the Operation, Turkish President R. Erdogan mentioned Manbij as the next target for the operation of the Turkish Army after Afrin. Apart from the Kurdish militia, US Marine Corps units are stationed in that city. If Ankara resolves Afrin's problem quickly and qualitatively, R. Erdogan will be able to start actions against the Kurds on the right bank of the Euphrates.

As we remember, in 2016 Americans, despite all the agreements, occupied this territory, which was supposed to belong to Turkey. Ankara had to adjust its plans very much, to negotiate with Tehran and hand over Aleppo to pro-Iranian forces.

At that moment, Washington was interested in maintaining relations with Iran. Today the situation has changed. The very presence of the Iranians in Aleppo significantly hinders Washington, and it can, after revising its agreements, begin to play a new solitaire.

In this case, Turkey will consider its agreements with Tehran on Aleppo to be invalid, which will mean for the Turkish proxy the beginning of the attack on Aleppo and its return to Turkish control. All this in sum will mean the beginning of a new redistribution of Syria.

Undoubtedly, relations between the RF, Turkey and Iran will get sharper, but we should understand that the struggle is not for the future of Syria, but for the “oil pipe”, and the countries-guarantors are fighting, based on their own interests.

The cynicism of what's happening is straightforward! Ankara has called the Operation “Olive Branch”. Moscow has introduced its troops to Syria under the slogan of the struggle for its territorial integrity. As for Tehran, it is doing everything silently. It's not the matter of honor, morality or national interests. It's all the matter of money, big money.

So, the Operation “Olive Branch” will end when the entire southern province of Kilis and the greater part of Hatay province are “cleared” from militants of terrorist organizations, a 30-kilometer “security zone” is created deep into Syrian territory, the threat of creation of a “Kurdish corridor” (land connection between the two regions — Afrin and Kobani).

Whether there will be the second phase of the Operation, depends on how the first phase goes and how Turkey and the US manage to agree.