Keynote Speech

Demystifying Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring

On the 9th of October 2019, Turkey declared the start of its third military operation in northern Syria since 2016. Named ‘Operation Peace Spring’, the operation is being carried out together with a coalition of Syrian opposition groups under the banner of the newly-established Syrian National Army. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan explained the objective of the operation as being the prevention of the formation of a “terror corridor” along the country’s southern border, and to establish a ‘safe zone’ in the area in order to facilitate the return of refugees. According to Turkish officials, Turkey is justified in its actions according to the principle of self-defence as set out by international law. On the other hand, the operation has attracted significant criticism from around the world and has been largely portrayed as an operation against Syrian Kurds. Turkey considers the YPG group as the extension of the PKK in Syria, a designated terrorist group by Turkey, the US, the EU and others. Turkey also hosts the largest refugee population in the world including hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds who fled both from the Syrian regime and the YPG. One of the main objectives of the operation is to facilitate the return of these refugees to their homes. This session aims to discuss the objectives, scale and the duration of ‘Operation Peace Spring’ as well as shed light on the Turkey’s broad approach to the Syria question.

Discussion Themes

This session intends to discuss the following:

• Will ‘Operation Peace Spring’ address Turkey’s national security concerns in the long-run?

• What effect could ‘Operation Peace Spring’ have with regards to stability in the wider region?

• Could ‘Operation Peace Spring’ pave the way for a positive resolution of the war in Syria?