TURKEY - AUGUST 24 : An Infographic with the title "Operation Euphrates Shield", created on August 24, 2016 in Ankara, Turkey. The sources said that the operation, called Euphrates Shield, is aimed at clearing terrorist groups from the Turkish border region, tightening border security, and supporting Syrias territorial integrity. (Photo by Ahmet Tamkoc/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Asayish (Kurdish police) began its aggression against the pro-government militia force the National Defense Force (NDF) on 16th of August when it launched an RPG attack at a checkpoint without provocation. This was not the first provocation the Asayish have committed against the NDF in Hasakah in Syria’s northeast. This has been a long ongoing issue for well over a year with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) doing very little to control the situation.

In fact the YPG had encouraged the Asayish’ aggression against government forces in Hasakah.What transpired were on and off battles lasting days and even including Syrian government airstrikes culminating the United States to boldly state that Syria could not conduct airstrikes within its own sovereign skies without risking a confrontation with the United States who heavily backed the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Although on the Twitter-sphere I was attacked consistently by the YPG zealots, what has transpired since the expulsion of the NDF and Syrian Arab Army (SAA) from Hasakah?


Firstly, ISIS have led a very successful campaign against YPG positions in the southern portions of Hasakah province.

Secondly, Turkey have begun an aggressive campaign with its Islamist proxies to expel the SDF from the western portions of the Euphrates in an operation named “Euphrates Shield”.

Effectively, since the Asayish and YPG began its aggression against government forces in Hasakah city, the greater repercussions have seen them lose areas of southern Hasakah to ISIS and their campaign to connect Afrin canton to the rest of what the Kurds wrongfully term “Rojava” be destroyed by Turkey’s intervention.

Over a month of fighting ISIS in Manbij in which the SDF lost hundreds of militants, it was only announced today that the YPG will be withdrawing from Manbij leaving only the Arab members of the SDF in the town. Although the YPG have claimed these militants have withdrawn to their bases, it is yet to be seen to what degree the Euphrates Shield operation has contributed to this decision. Latest reports have shown that ISIS have committed attacks against YPG forces south of Manbij today.

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It is well established that the Turkish regime have been engaged in a low intensity conflict with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in the country for decades and that the YPG are just an extension of the PKK in Syria. It is no conspiracy that a Kurdish northern Syria constituting of Hasakah to Afrin is desired by the YPG and intolerable to Ankara.

This aggressive pursuit to statehood and the fracturing of the Syrian state explains the Asayish’ provocations with YPG blessing and support against Syrian government forces. However, the arrogance of the YPG would have blinded them to see that a double prong attack from ISIS in southern Hasakah province and Turkey and its Islamist proxies from northern Aleppo province was to be anticipated. Focusing all its energy in expelling government forces that consistently desired and sought a ceasefire with Kurdish forces exposed YPG forces to an ISIS and Turkish-led attack.

However, whilst YPG supporters were celebrating this victory over government forces, the YPG’s biggest backers, the United States, warned the YPG yesterday from advancing west of the Euphrates and to withdraw completely back to the east side of the river. US Vice President Joe Biden stated that Kurdish forces “must move back across the Euphrates River. They cannot, will not, under any circumstance get American support if they do not keep that commitment.” Effectively the “Marxist” anti-imperialist YPG had been betrayed by their biggest ally and largest imperial power the world has ever seen, the United States. This ideological contradiction is often overlooked and forgiven though by the trendy Western-leftists who continuously to unsuccessfully attempt to justify the hypocrisy.

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Today Biden continued to reaffirm Turkey’s Syria commitment by announcing that the Turks are prepared to stay as long as it takes to defeat ISIS. However, YPG and PKK spokespersons have continually claimed that the purpose of the Euphrates Shield operation is to defeat the YPG and not ISIS. This is a fair speculation, however the YPG must question why their aggressive pursuit for statehood at the cost of Syrian unity is completely unraveling.

Although a potent and effective fighting force that has had many impressive victories against ISIS, the YPG have been completely inept on the political spectrum and understanding geopolitics. Foolishly they assumed they could march their away across northern Syria without any repercussions because of their alliance with imperialist Washington who are are operating illegally in Syria. They were soon stabbed in the back with Washington favoring to appease Ankara who have been warming their relations with NATO-rival Russia.

The refusal of Biden to allow the YPG to connect its Afrin canton to its areas of control east and just west of the Euphrates demonstrates a Washington backstabbing the YPG and no longer pursuing a policy of a united “Kurdistan” in Syria.

Effectively, the YPG sought for a short term gain in its statehood pursuit by expelling pro-government forces in Hasakah at the cost of losing villages in southern Hasakah to ISIS, swathes of territory in Aleppo province to Turkey and its Islamist proxies, and the imperative town of Manbij that the Arab members of the SDF will struggle to hold onto when ISIS decides to push for it again.

Its short term gain will mean its plans for the long term have been dealt a shattering blow. The shortsightedness of its arrogance has meant its slow contraction for its push to Afrin canton, and the YPG only have its self to blame for their predicament. Rather than being cooperative with government forces who have always attempted to maintain good relations with them, they have always sought to undermine them.

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Turkey’s intervention in Syria makes no difference to the Syrian government as the land being taken by the Turkish Islamist proxies is just transferring it from one enemy’s hand, to another. But it has blocked any attempt for the YPG to create a “Rojava”. The Syrian government may have been willing to support the YPG against this double pronged aggression it now faces as it has done in the past where it provided arms and air support to the YPG, but it is unimaginable this could transpire when one considers the aggression the Asayish and YPG committed in Hasakah against the NDF unprovoked.


The above map by newsmap.pl shows YPG areas in yellow, the green shows the areas that the Euphrates Shield hopes to gain, and the dark colour is ISIS.

The Afrin canton lies to the west in yellow and as demonstrated, if the Euphrates Shield is successful, it will block attempts to unify “Rojava”.

As said by Chris Tchaik, it is the YPG’s inflexibility and arrogance with Damascus that has made Erdogan’s dream of a buffer zone be realized with the blessings from not only Washington, but Moscow too.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al-Masdar News.
Paul Antonopoulos has an MA Degree in International Relations, and wrote his dissertation on the Saudi-Iranian Geopolitical Rivalry in the Syrian War. He currently is Deputy-Editor for Al-Masdar News and teaches at Charles Sturt University

You can follow him on twitter: @oulosP



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    • I don’t think Russia will allow that because the no fly zone will just prolong the war. The no fly zone will be used as an resting area, rearming area, and training ground for the terrorists. Russia would never allow that nor Iran

  1. Anyone who trusts the US foreign policy has to have his head examined. Remember wat happened with the natives of what is now the US. This double talk has been the hallmark of US foreign policy ever since. Stupid YPG/PKK. First they fell in the trap set up by ISIS/Erdogan and now this. Idiots and criminals!

    • There was no doubletalk. YPG has known this for weeks or months. It was Manbij and the area about. No Al Bab – No Jarablus.

      They were alone by wishing to take those and connect to Afrian as well.

      You ans theYPG are lying very 100%. YPG was/are a part of a coalition and not some anarkistic expecting that if US says a and b it means c,d,e.

      there are others in the area – and now the turks got their big excuse for that intervention.

      Look at a map. First ISIS, then Azzas rebl.-nusras – or/and Assads. Madnes of first class.

      You behave like a military state and You dont have troops to defend yourself from south or Turks comming as they wish.

      You need some better politicians.

  2. Even with the Kurds pushing their luck and bullying with their Asayish, I fail to see how you think Turkey occupying Syrian soil, when they supply and support terrorists, is a better alternative.

  3. “the expulsion of the NDF and Syrian Arab Army (SAA) from Hasakah” wrong they are both still there ,but i agree with the rest of your analysis specially about syria not caring if turks come in,as i also believe both syria and russia had pre knowledge of this move despite there weak verbal objection to it as a show to maintain appearance,this way Assad used the kurdish fools a cannon fodder to create a buffer zone between syria/turdgay and now uses the turds to suppress the kurds while keeping his hands clean of it officially ,but all of this to syria’s expense in humiliation of allowing all these foreigners to trample all over there sovereignty,,this might be strategy but i dont like it one bit

  4. so typical of Washington,to stab the Kurds in the back when they saw Putin and Erdogen settling their differences.The yanks,afraid of Turkey forming an alliance with Russia,maybe leaving NATO and allowing Soviets to put in their defence shied against NATO front line threats.
    whatever way it plays out the Kurds,who started the fightback against jihadis and ISIS in the hope of finally getting their own homeland,have been stabbed by both Putin and Washington.
    Turkey with US air support will use this Euphrates Shield as a cover to try to invade Syria and if successful,both achieve their aims,a change of government in Syria and Turkey becoming one of the true superpowers in the Middle East led by that Caliphate mad Erdogen ! GOD?ALLAH help us all !

  5. How does the author know that the Rusisan government supports Turkey’s Operation Euphrates or not? The Russians haven’t really said anything. It’s ridiculous that the US is violating all these international laws while the UN does nothing. What’s the point of the UN when they turn an blind eye to the US violating international laws and committing war crimes? It seems like Turkey made the decision to cozy up with Russia to get the US’ support for their operation. There was no fight against ISIS because they were ordered to withdraw. How do you think they took the town back so easily? The YPG is being used by the US, and they know this. Instead of working with the Syrian govt, that has always supported them, they backstabbed the Syrian government out of their greed for land to establish their own country. That’s not going to happen, so they might as well work with the Syrian government and Russia instead. If Turkey does not remove their troops out of Syria after the operation is over, then we will know for sure that they are there to steal the land forever. The hypocrisy of NATO is ridiculous and stupid. They caused these war, and they are making it worst. Russia, Iran, and China needs to take more direct actions to end this war ASAP

  6. Exactly….i will add that the hasakah incdent the fast evacution ISIS from jarablus when manbji battle finished and the split of .”FSA” Azaz of the rest FSA were the attemts to create a buffer zone for Turks inside Syria. Now for internal cnsumtion Eufrates shield succed and was vital to proove that Turkish army is strong after coup and ofc US never left Turkey

  7. The author is right with his statement. But the engagement of Turks is not the end of Rojava. It depends of the means the Kurds have. If they can acquire or capture enough TOW and Manpads better Main Battle Tanks it would be too expensive for Turkey to attack Kurds.

    First of all: Rojava can exist good without the small green stripe at turkish corridor shown above. The Question will be, if Turkey attack the YPG generally or not.

    USA droped the SDF. It is not important if USA only threatend with it. The threat of Biden alone was the end of support.

    The Kurds have further a few options which give hope:

    What has to be considerd is that the drop of SDF by USA will cause a new situation now. SDF would be stupid to fight against IS furtermore. And maybe they can achieve a confined ceasefire with IS. Then both had enough ressources to annoy the States who greeted and supported the Turkish aggression.

    Contrawise the Kurds can try to smoothen the realtionships with SAA. One example for a card they can play is to help SAA to free Der Ezor. But that would require a negotiated solution for the postwar period. That could led to win-win between SAA & Kurds.

    A war from USA or Turkey in eastern Syria to eliminate IS is unlikely and would reanimate international support from islamist for IS. Therefor the US need SDF and have a cause to reintegrate the Kurds. Some day even Obama will recognise that there is no FSA anymore which can beat IS.

    True is that the combat strength of the non-Kurdisch YPG is not enough to withstand Turkish military, but if Turkey start to attack SDF (more than just a few clashes) than YPG has a legitime cause to come back to Manbij.

    But one point is a bit naive of Kurdish politics: There Believe in communism. But we should not fear that as we know that sozialism does not work. Some day they will recognise themselves. But this misbelief (a rest of cold war) make support dificult.

    • You are wrong about making a Rojava anyway and by some better weapons. This cant be won by war. I see/saw the best chance by Kurds being on their own turf taken defensive lines keeping verybody out being friends – or at least no enemies with more than now taking the Eufrat line.

      Let the others fight about the rest than ánd show You are the most stabile part of Syria. Might be some Assad and a Nusra/rebel territories. They will then have no power to take kurds back.

      Remeber one very important thing. So many things are destroyed. So many people are. The have to build up infrastructure and new ones.

      So You just have to give them their part of the oil and let the Turks and their kurds left by themselv.

      Waiting until they cant fight anymore because everything normal is destroyed.