Mounting neoconservative senate efforts to halt the Turkish anti-terror operation are not a solution, analysts say.
Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic US Senator Chris Van Hollen on Wednesday unveiled an outline for proposed sanctions on Turkey, including targeting US assets held by Turkey, and imposing visa restrictions on its leadership.
This came as part of a proposed bipartisan legislation which would also impose sanctions on any military transactions with Turkey, set sanctions on anyone who supports Turkey's domestic energy industry for use by its armed forces, prohibit the sale of US defence articles to the Turkey armed forces and define Turkey 's purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defense system as "significant" and subject to sanctions.
Responding to Lindsey Graham’s tweet announcing the bipartisan opposition, Fahruttin Altin, Turkish Presidency Communications Director tweeted back: "We were in a rush to unleash hell on PKK and ISIS [Daesh] terrorists, who threatened our citizens."
Senator,— Fahrettin Altun (@fahrettinaltun) October 9, 2019
I am writing to inform you that Turkey and the Syrian National Army launched Operation Peace Spring today.
I heard that we may have ran a red light.
It was an emergency.
We were in a rush to unleash hell on PKK and ISIS terrorists, who threatened our citizens. https://t.co/TCuyllcQv3
Neocons up in arms
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Rand Paul slammed Senator Lindsey Graham and congresswoman Liz Cheney as the "neocon War Caucus" for their criticism on US troop withdrawal from northern Syria.
"The Cheney/Graham neocon War Caucus wants to come back to DC and declare a war. My question for them is - who will you declare it on?" Paul tweeted. "Will it be out NATO allies the Turks? Will it be Assad? Will it be Islamic rebels? Which ones?"
Will it be out NATO allies the Turks? Will it be Assad? Will it be Islamic rebels? Which ones? They want to keep starting endless wars in conflicts that go back hundreds of years, but what they want makes no sense.— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 9, 2019
Earlier, the two Republican lawmakers raised criticism after US President Donald Trump announced Washington would pull back troops where Turkey began a peace operation to clear the region of terrorists.
On Sunday, the White House said US troops "will no longer be in the immediate area."
"The neocon move to punish Turkey for 'daring' to address key national security concerns is a reaction, and not a solution on their part," Mark Jefferson, analyst for the Stratton Consulting Group, told TRT World.
"They had ample opportunity to be part of the solution, but instead chose to sit back and do little. What we see now is a reaction to Turkey taking a more assertive approach, and seemingly constructive approach to its own integrity and security," he adds.
Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul alleged actors in Syria wanted to "keep starting endless wars in conflicts that go back hundreds of years."
He praised Trump as the first president in his life to "understand what is our national interest and what is not."
"He is stopping the endless wars and we will be stronger as a result. The Cheney/Graham Neocon War Caucus has cost us too much fighting endless wars," Paul wrote.
Addressing national security
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria on Wednesday to secure its borders by eliminating terror elements to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkey has no interest in occupying Syria or changing its demographics,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Wednesday in a live interview over the phone with the BBC.
Underlining Turkey’s fight against PKK and Daesh terrorists, Kalin said “the safe zone will provide an opportunity for refugees to return to their homes.”
“We will continue to help Syrians without discrimination,” he added.
Turkey has said the terror group PKK and its extension the YPG/PYD constitute the biggest threat to Syria’s future, jeopardising the country’s territorial integrity.
Turkey has also stressed that supporting terrorists under the pretext of fighting Daesh is unacceptable.
"This operation is being carried out in accordance with international law, Article 51 of the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions on the fight against terrorism,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday.
With the operation, the region will be cleared of terrorists, Syria’s border security and territorial integrity will be guaranteed, displaced people will be able to return safely to their homes and peace and safety will prevail in the region, he added.
No country in the world can fight illegal migration like Turkey and no one can treat hosted migrants better, he said.
What comes next?
Turkey has a 911 kilometre (566 mile) border with Syria and has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates and the formation of a “terrorist corridor” there.
Turkey plans to resettle two million Syrians in a 30-km (19 m) wide safe zone to be set up in Syria, stretching from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border, including Manbij. However, the presence of terrorist groups such as the PKK, PYD and YPG risk its formation.
Building on past operations
Turkey has rid an area of 4,000 square km (1,544 square miles) in Syria of terrorist groups in two separate cross-border operations. Since 2016, Turkey has conducted two major military operations in northwestern Syria – Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch – to purge the region of the terrorist groups Daesh and the YPG, which is the Syrian branch of the PKK terrorist group.
The two operations were in line with the country’s right to self-defence borne out of international law, UN Security Council resolutions, especially no.1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014) and under the right to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter while being respectful of Syria’s territorial integrity.
During Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkish forces neutralised 3,060 Daesh terrorists. Turkey has suffered greatly from Daesh attacks inside the country. More than 300 people have been killed in attacks claimed by Daesh in Turkey, where the terrorist group has targeted civilians in suicide bombings and armed attacks in recent years.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.