In a major weekend speech on policy and on Turkey’s ongoing invasion of northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that Turkey would “never allow” the founding of any sort of new state in northern Syria, insisting such an independent state would threaten southern Turkish provinces.
Though Erdogan did not specify a particular state, Turkey is clearly most worried about the establishment of an independent state in Western Kurdistan, the area in Syria’s northeast, and it would inevitably increase the independence movement across the rest of Kurdistan, including the Turkish southeast.
Erdogan indicated that after taking te city of al-Bab, which Turkey is currently trying to take from ISIS, they intend to invade the Kurdish-held city of Manbij, and then continue eastward into the ISIS capital of Raqqa, itself currently being invaded by US and Kurdish forces.
Erdogan also said a no-fly zone across northern Syria remains a top priority, and that he intends to push US President-elect Donald Trump on the issue. Trump is unlikely to be open to such a move, however, as the no-fly zone has been presented primarily as a move against Russia and the Syrian government, and Trump has called for a shift in policy toward fighting ISIS and away from regime change.