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Turkey's Afrin operation might be legal - To some extent

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January 24 · Issue #74 · View online
MENAroundup
MENAroundup
MENA Roundup is a weekly publication containing insightful articles on politics in the Middle East, focussing on Syria and Iraq.
lars@menaroundup.com

Notions
  • Following a Turkish outcry, the US administration backtracked on plans for a ‘border guard’ consisting of some 30.000 SDF troops. However, the training of such forces continues.
  • Contrary to claims of various politicians, the legal situation of Turkey’s Afrin offensive is anything but clear. Anything that comes close to occupation is off-limits, but due to the organizational ties between the YPG and the PKK, Turkey has an argument to intervene in general.
  • Since ‘Operation Olive Branch’ began, the rebel counteroffensive in Idlib/northern Hama has effectively stopped. Instead, government troops have entered the Abu Duhur Airbase without significant resistance. There is no confirmation so far, but obviously there has been an understanding that resulted in an Afrin-for-Idlib-Trade.
  • There is a map circulating that shows an intended Turkish security zone along the border, including the city of Manbij. In March 2017, US troops intervened in the YPG-held city in order to prevent escalation between the Euphrates Shield rebels and YPG fighters. The Manbij military council has already stated that it will defend the city. So, if Turkey launches an attack, the US will have to choose between its ally on the ground and its NATO partner. 
  • ‘Operation Olive Branch’ also causes damage within the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), an opposition umbrella group supported by Turkey. The Kurdish National Council (KNC) is opposed to the PYD and member of the SNC but does not support the SNC’s support for the offensive on Afrin. 
  • Not to forget: Heavy bombardment in other regions continues. People in Eastern Ghouta are suffering badly. 
Articles worth reading
How Turkey’s Potential Afrin Push Measures Up Against
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Al-Hasakah Tribes: Fragmented loyalty
Lessons Learned: A Year After the Fall of Aleppo
Israel’s “Safe Zone” Is Creeping Farther Into Syria
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