In order to restore peace and stability to the region and to destroy the terror corridor that is trying to be established on Turkey’s southern border, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) together with the Syrian National Army (SNA) launched the Peace Spring Operation against PKK/ YPG and ISIS terrorist organizations in northern Syria. The Department of Political Science and International Relations organized the “Operation Peace Spring, Strategic Goals and International Implications” panel on Friday, October 18 at Başakşehir Campus to discuss the operation. Assoc. Prof. Burhan Köroğlu, Assist. Prof. Hakkı Öcal from Ibn Haldun University and Serhan Afacan from Istanbul Medeniyet University participated in the panel which was moderated by Assoc. Prof. Talha Köse.
“The final agreement, which was declared on October 17 between Turkey and the USA, led to what Turkey had already searched for since the beginning of the negotiations”
At the opening of the panel, Assoc. Prof. Talha Köse said that the developments in our region opened the door to serious impacts and interactions at an international level, and that the developments had many historical, political, military, psychological, media and economical dimensions, “we are at a historical moment” said Köse. Recalling that the operation of the Peace Spring started on October 9, Köse stated that the diplomatic and politically intensive and long process of the operation had begun a long before, he stressed out that the final consensus, which was declared on October 17 between Turkey and the USA, led to what Turkey had already searched for since the beginning of the negotiations. He added that the agreement will seriously affect the course of the operation and subsequent developments.
“Syria Is Faced with A Destruction”
The first speech of the panel was made by the Head of Media and Communication Department Assist. Prof. Hakkı Öcal. Reminding that the countries and regimes in the Middle East are shaped by Western countries such as England, USA, France, Öcal said that these created regimes do not represent their communities and that the problems experienced in these geographies for decades hold the Western countries responsible for it. “Whoever exported the Arab Spring to Syria, he knew that the worst effect would be there,” said Öcal. And continued saying that the current situation in Syria is facing a destruction almost in every aspect of education, health, and other aspects, “In fact, even if peace reigned throughout Syria today, a catastrophe awaits the country’s next 10 years. The situation is of even greater concern.”
Citing a map for the Middle East drawn on basis of blood ties by a retired US officer called Ralph Peters, Öcal said that this should be read as a new interpretation of Neocons for the region. The map named “Blood Borders” was published by the American “Armed Forces” journal in 2006, according to Öcal. “Peters believes that the strategy for the Middle East that developed by the British and French has failed in the 20th century because it neglected the blood ties,” Öcal underlined. He added that the US policy in the Middle East witnessed a decisive shift after that map.
Hakki Ocal, who stated that it is difficult to predict the answers to the questions of “Will America come out of the region? should it come out?” said, “I think that the United States should not leave the region until providing the necessary financial support for repairing the devastation left behind. There should be a price for the damage they caused. Turkey-US relations will continue to follow a path of ups and downs, but the 2023 presidential election would be essential for the beginning of a new era of relations between the two countries.”
“Arab nations yearn for a democratic order and take Turkey as a model”
In his speech, Assoc. Prof. Burhan Köroğlu Head of Philosophy Department of Ibn Haldun University said, “What we experience today is one of the natural consequences of a crisis that has been going on in our geography for 200 years.” Köroğlu stressed out that some of the countries in the Arab League are still considered “dangerous” by the West who wants to alter and made them more controllable. “Assuming the Arab Spring was a romantic process, but it also represented a hope for Arab societies and opinion leaders,” Assoc. Prof. Köroğlu continued, “The aspirations for freedom and democratic order of the people living in the Middle East are increasing day by day, they demand a fair distribution of prosperity and they are eager for modernization and openness to the world, which is what the spirit of the era requires.” He said both Arab population and intellectuals see Turkey as a model worthy of emulation and this should be considered. Köroğlu pointed out that the most important reason for the failure of the Arab Spring is that the US and Europe do not want a democratic order in this region despite this, Köroğlu stressed out that the Middle East people’s desires, longings and demands still exist. Assessing the military Peace Spring Operation, Köroğlu said, “Turkey’s political stance which is balanced, consistent, principled and human-oriented is in front of international forces which are volatile, devoid of any principle. Turkey’s policy finds a significant positive response in the Arab world.”
Pointing out that Turkey’s infrastructure and efforts to recognize the region were insufficient until recently, Assoc. Prof. Burhan Köroğlu added, “We have just discovered our historical accumulation and depth in this geography. The Middle East geography is very dynamic and the human resources in the region are very rich.” He emphasized, “Instead of the artificial, fragile model produced by Europe, we now have to produce our own model with the peoples of the region. We should not forget that the problems between us are artificially provoked by the West.”
“The rift between visions of Turkey and the USA is gradually increasing”
Serhan Afacan, a lecturer at Istanbul Medeniyet University, who has studies and researches on Iran also gave a speech in the “Peace Spring Operation, Strategic Goals and International Implications” panel. Afacan indicated that there are three prominent visions in the Middle East which are the Arab countries vision in the Gulf axis, Turkey and Iran, and he said that Iran’s vision can be defined as ‘volatile’. He added, “We have been facing an Iran which has been slowly breaking away from the international system since the 1973 Oil Crisis and started to invest in non-state actors in the region,” Afacan underlined that these actors are not represented by Hezbollah only.
Afacan stated that Iran has a lot of cards in its hand and it obviously has a sectarian policy in this geography and its foreign policy could not be rational and sustainable. The reached agreement of the Peace Spring Operation disrupted, with the most, Iran’s game, Afacan added. “The conflict in the region is a vision conflict. In this sense, I can tell that the rift between visions of Turkey and the USA is gradually increasing,” Afacan said.