Excerpts from a lengthy, detailed article in the current issue of the Middle East Quarterly. (The creation of Daniel Pipes, who decidedly has his own ax to grind.)

Turkish Imperialism: When Will Turkey Annex Northern Syria?

During the past five years, Turkish forces launched four military operations that led to the establishment of four border zones under their control….

Last year, the Turkish army launched Operation Spring Shield in the Idlib governorate following a military assault by the Syrian regime to regain control over vast areas in the northwest. That assault ended with a ceasefire agreement between Damascus’s ally Russia and Turkey in Idlib in March 2020.

Turkey controls nearly 4.9 percent of Syria with between 12,000 and 15,000 soldiers stationed there.

As a result of these actions, Turkey now controls more than 8,000 square kilometers in Syria, or nearly 4.9 percent of the war-torn country. Between 12,000 and 15,000 Turkish soldiers are stationed there. The major cities under Turkish control are Azaz, Marea, al- Bab, Jarabulus, Afrin, Ras al-Ayn (Serê Kaniyê), and the town of ar-Ra’i.

Ankara has also formed affiliated Syrian militias of some 80,000 to 100,000 fighters. Most go by Turkish and Ottoman names, notably “Sultan Murad,” “Mehmed the Conqueror,” the “Samarkand Brigade,” and “Suleiman-Shah,” which yielded a group of youth fighters in April 2019 dubbed “Ertugrul’s Grandsons.”

Turkey has various plans to achieve its scheme. Turkish military operations displaced between 300,000 and 350,000 Kurdish civilians from their towns and subsequently blocked them from returning.


Ankara has used the Turkistan Islamic Party, a Uighur Islamic faction grouped in Idlib and considered a terrorist movement, to fight the Kurds and offered to compensate its members by settling them and their families in Syria.