Turkey’s launching of Euphrates Shield marked a new and more active phase in its campaign against Syria’s Kurds. The immediate military goal was to push the YPG (now SDF) back toward the Euphrates River and away from the northwestern enclave of Afrin. The operation was accompanied by an offensive on the diplomatic front, as Ankara reached out to former enemies like Moscow in an attempt to marginalize Syria’s Kurds from the political process that ends the war.
Recent developments suggest that neither of these goals is being accomplished.
The YPG, or People’s Protection Units, is a Kurdish militia that operates as the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – the ruling party in Kurdish parts of northern Syria. The YPG has long been an enemy of the Turkish government owing to its purported links with the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and the possibility that the PYD could one day break free from Syria and establish an independent Kurdish state.