There are reasons international borders exist; Turkey and every other country or group which has sent soldiers into Syria has violated this tenet of the international order. In contrast, Russia is a declared ally of Syria. Some claim Turkey has met its Waterloo in Syria. Yet why would Turkey decide on such an invasion is the real question many have avoided. History is a guide.
Turkey’s interest is in forging an internally socially homogeneous population, including influences just over its borders. Foremost for Turkey is eliminating any expression of overt Kurdish ethnicity. This process began with the Turkish genocide of its Armenian citizens and those outside its borders during WWI. It then proceeded in killing other non-Muslim minorities, importing Muslims from the Caucasus and the Balkans, etc. It exchanged its Greek population with Muslims from Greece. The Republic of Turkey was forged on the blood of millions. Actions a century ago started the problem we have today.
In 1938 France’s Syrian Mandate “gave” Turkey the Syrian Mediterranean region of Alexandretta. This grant was a quid pro quo for Turkey not to side with Germany, as the war was brewing in Europe. It wasn’t even France’s land to give. Arabs protested, but nobody operationally cared then. Turkey won.
In 1974 Turkey was given the green light by Kissinger and others to invade the sovereign state of Cyprus. To this day, Turkey occupies a good third of that island. The US placed a partial weapons freeze on its NATO ally. Such an embargo was deemed livable by the Turks. The international community protested, but nobody operationally cared then. Turkey won.
Turkey, given another green light this time from US President Trump, engaged in an egregious invasion of another country — a NATO member unilaterally attacked another country. Turkey calculated ability, risk, cost, and made the best decision in its interest. This invasion violates international law and has already resulted in the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. US titular sanctions against Turkey lasted nine days. These Turkish acts are criminal, but history tells Turks a different story.
History has demonstrated that under the right circumstances, Turkey can do what it wants without repercussions. The international community condemned Turkey’s Syrian invasion, but as in the past, nobody effectively cares. Turkey will win this gambit as well.
Turkey will be extracting natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean – and if the international community complains, it will open its borders, and hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees expelled from Turkey will enter the EU. Another win allowed.
Tomorrow, Turkey may find the right conditions to finish off their extermination of what remains of the Armenians. Hitler, in his 22 August 1939 Obersalzberg speech, exclaimed, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” Hitler, too, concluded Turkey won.
International kowtowing to unilateral Turkish interests so as not to invoke the rage of a spoiled child has allowed Turkey to be a regional bully.