The Construction of Containment Anxiety: A Critical Geopolitical Analysis of Turkey’s Military Intervention into Syria

Mustafa Onur Tetik


The Turkish Armed Forces successfully executed two consecutive cross-border operations (Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch) in Syria following the failed coup d‘état in 2016. Turkey‘s supposedly traditional ―Kurdophobic‖ reflexes were widely deemed as the motivation behind these operations. However, these assertions are weak when it comes to Turkey‘s relatively harmonious relations with Iraqi Kurdistan and the significant portion of Turkish Kurds‘ endorsement of the incumbent Turkish government. Moreover, the fact that the Turkish government was not a hardliner against the Kurdish-led outlawed Democratic Union Party and its military wing People's Protection Units in the early days of the Syrian Civil War undermines these essentialist and reductionist contentions. This article proposes a geopolitics-driven and more holistic explanation to the Turkish military campaign into Northern Syria. Its objective is to provide a more comprehensive insight into Turkish geopolitical manoeuvres in Syria, to set the contextual and ideational background of the military operations and to present Turkey‘s cognitive horizon for its actions within its vicinity. The article anchors its theoretical basis in the ―critical geopolitics‖ approach in order to place the Turkish intervention into a broader geopolitical context.


Euphrates Shield; Olive Branch; Critical Geopolitics; Turkey; Syria

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