Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered strikes on the bases of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK, Turkey recognized the party as a terrorist organization) in northern Syria and Iraq. As the Arabist Marianna Belenkaya told The Insider, Erdogan planned the operation back in May, but started it right now because of the terrorist attack in Istanbul, while he found a reason to mention Russia's failure to fulfill its obligations to withdraw Kurdish formations from the border. Both Russia and Turkey had commitments to Syria with a view to a ceasefire, and now the countries are blaming each other for not fulfilling them.
“Erdogan covered himself so that no one could object to him. Yesterday, Turkey covered itself with Article 51 of the UN Charter on self-defense - this was both against the United States and against Russia, they say, they have every right to strike. It is not a fact that this will continue, but the United States has not yet opposed Turkish strikes. There were no speeches by Russia either, but Moscow has always said that it prefers to negotiate peacefully, is open to negotiations and will conduct a dialogue.
When the operation was discussed in May, Turkey decided that it was unprofitable to conduct it, and if now there are strikes on the Turkish military from Syria, then Erdogan will have more reasons to act and launch a ground operation. It is not very beneficial for Russia now for Erdogan to start a ground operation - it will be difficult to stop him, as well as to explain to Damascus why Russia did nothing to prevent Turkey. Erdogan is unlikely to manage with some half-hearted goals, but, on the other hand, he can evaluate himself that he is unlikely to be able to bring everything to the end, and will limit himself to pinpoint strikes. It is always convenient to say that it is not only him, but others are to blame.
It is unprofitable for Russia to quarrel with Turkey, because this will cause her a lot of problems with Syria, and no change in the status quo in Syria is needed, but it is important that everything remains as it is, does not get worse. Russia understands that if Erdogan wants to carry out the operation and go to the end, then it will be difficult to stop him, and Damascus may not like such conditions very much. When Erdogan starts this kind of operation, there is a danger that Russia will lose the image of a mediator, because it cannot do anything. There were moments when Russia managed to prevent this, but now the Russian Federation is more dependent on Turkey than Turkey is on it.
Russia was not going to fight against Erdogan and against the Kurds too. The maximum that Russia did was deploy its military in the area that became a wall between Turkey and the Kurds, carried out patrols with Turkey, monitored the situation, but always withdrew its forces in case of a threat. In principle, direct confrontation was never part of the task.
After the terrorist attack, the issue of Sweden and Finland joining NATO is a reason to bargain with the West. A week before the attack, they made it clear that the Western partners also do not fulfill their obligations and do not fight terrorists, that is, those Kurdish organizations that Erdogan considers terrorist. Countries do not extradite to Turkey those whom it accuses of terrorism. Erdogan's internal rating now depends on how the security situation develops. If it gets worse, the rating will drop, if the terrorist attack remains an isolated case, and Erdogan responds and shows how good he is, it will be beneficial for him.”
Erdogan announced Operation Sword Claw against the PKK in northern Syria and Iraq. On November 20, Turkey launched strikes on alleged "terrorist bases" that they used to attack Turkey. Erdogan decided on the operation after an explosion occurred on the pedestrian Istiklal Street in the center of Istanbul on November 13, killing 6 people and injuring 81 others. Turkey blamed the PKK for what happened. According to Turkish police, the attack was carried out by a Syrian citizen born in 1999, who acknowledged ties to the PKK, and about 50 more people were detained as part of the case.
In early June, Erdogan announced his readiness to launch a new anti-terrorist operation in Syria in order to “clear terrorists” from the cities of Tell Rifat and Manbij. Then he emphasized that the United States and Russia "failed to fulfill their obligations to create a safe zone" in the border area.