Since the operation in Afrin began, Turkey has been quick to exploit the international concern about the Islamist group, asserting that it is fighting IS as well as the YPG in the area. Turkey’s state news agency reported that ‘the PYD/PKK terror group has released all Daesh [IS] prisoners under the condition that they will fight against the Turkish army and Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria’s Afrin region’.
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The referendum sent shock waves around the world, inspiring Kurds to the possibility of an independent state and alarming governments across the region. But if Erbil went ahead with the vote from a position of strength, the KRG is now in its worst state for years, wracked by internal dissent and with old political wounds freshly opened.
With no quick solutions to the Syrian conflict in sight, Turkey’s approach to the war has become one of self-interest. Gone are the days of demanding regime change. Al-Assad looks here to stay, a fact reflected in Turkey’s changing stance on the war, which is now focused on countering Kurdish military strength. The resurgent Kurdish threat will ensure that Turkey will not be leaving Syria any time soon.
In a best-case scenario, the horrific mosque attack will create a backlash against IS, which the state could capitalize on by improving relations with civilians and ensuring local support. However, a speech given by Egyptian President Abdel_Fattah_alSisi on 29 November 2017 struck a less hopeful tone.