A Turkish army tank in northern Syria, February 2015.
Stringer / Reuters

Ankara’s late-August military intervention into northern Syria, officially dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield, was a moment of revelry for many in the Turkish press. A great majority of editors, columnists, and television presenters saw the Turkish army’s advance as a decisive statement of the nation’s resolve. The invasion and creation of a security buffer in Syria fulfilled two objectives vital to the country’s security. First, they forced the Islamic State (ISIS) to retreat after years of occupying towns and villages along Turkey’s southern border. Second, and perhaps most important, they were an effort to contain Syria’s most powerful Kurdish faction, the Party of Democratic Union (PYD), to areas east of the Euphrates river. From Ankara’s perspective, such moves would not only improve Turkish security, but were a natural extension of Ankara’s ongoing campaign against the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), a separatist organization based

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  • RYAN GINGERAS is an associate professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is the author of Fall of the Sultanate: The Great War and the End of the Ottoman Empire.
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