On September 25, an independence referendum started in Iraqi Kurdistan. According to it, more than 92% support an autonomy. Obviously, the referendum provoked furious reaction of the Turkish government – Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened the Kurds with a military invasion and freezing the pipeline transporting the Iraqi oil on the territory of Turkey.
At the same time, the Turkish parliament extended the mandate on troops’ deployment in Syria and Iraq in case of security threats.
Moreover, earlier the media reported that Ankara kept increasing its military presence on the Turkish-Syrian border – on September 17, 80 vehicles were moved to Iskenderun, and September 21, in an interview to Reuters Erdogan claimed he was ready to deploy the army to Idlib.
Also, according to some media, Turkey reached an agreement with the Free Syrian Army envisaging the FSA fighting against the Kurdish troops like during the Euphrates Shield operation.
However, a number of factors restrict Turkey’s military invasion. First, Syria and its allies, Russia in particular, deprecate the possible intervention. Together with Ankara, Moscow set up the de-escalation zone in Idlib and remains a guarantor of the ceasefire. Second, in case of a full-scale conflict, Kurd-dominated southeast Turkey will be likely involved in it. Third, Erdogan can provoke Washington, which wouldn’t be too bold to take part and impose sanctions on the Turkish Republic acting against its interests.
Yet, despite all the mentioned and other reasons, Ankara is stepping up the tension on the border and asserting pressure on the Kurds. Unfortunately, the situation isn’t going towards de-escalation and may develop into another conflict in northern Syria at any time. Now, one can only hope for the reasonable decisions of the sides of the crisis.