Turki Mustafa, Baladi News
The city of Manbij is considered a major key in "Euphrates Shield" operation in order to regain the Syrian regions occupied by the separatist Kurdish units, regime forces, Iranian militias, and ISIS, but this operation was confronted by the regional and international powers that prevented the Free Syrian Army from achieving its goals.
Manbij between Destruction and Dividing
The Free army, in coordination with the special Turkish forces in "Euphrates Shield" operation, has managed to expel ISIS from the city of al-Bab causing it to withdraw its capital in al-Raqqah in a battle that has strategical, political, and military dimensions under a clear collusion between Assad's forces and the Kurdish units in order to prevent Euphrates Shield forces from advancing towards Manbij and al-Raqqah. Such conditions revealed that the international coalition led by USA is failing to achieve its mission as Washington and Russia have pushed their mercenaries from Iran and SDF to move to the outskirts of Manbij, the thing that aroused the ire of Ankara and the Free army and as a result this small geographical region of Manbij has become a clashing point for the Free Syrian army, the separatist Kurdish units, Assad's forces and Iranian militias which turned this region into a time bomb that will explode with the smallest trigger.
The strategical Dimension Of Manbij In Euphrates Shield Operation
The Arab city that is known as the city of Gods, history, and literature has opened its arms for its sons of the Free Syrian army, but for everybody's surprise, the American flag was fluttering on its western side in a flagrant message to prevent "Euphrates Shield" forces from entering the city occupied by the separatist Kurdish forces.
This city of Manbij is of paramount importance for the Kurdish separatist dream as it's located on the Turkish borders connecting Afrin and Kobani. It also overlooks the Euphrates river, al-Sajour stream from the northern side and al-Zahab river from the southwestern side which gives it a great economic importance in this war. The strategical importance of the region lies in being one of the most important points which is able to connect or disconnect the eastern and western regions of Euphrates river, along with controlling an important network of land roads.
On the military level: The region is of great strategical importance especially after the free army has liberated most parts of it, controlled the land outlets to Turkey (Jarabuls, and Bab al-Salamah) and expelled ISIS from the border regions, along with controlling the supply lines of the separatist Kurdish entity.
On the political level: The latest accomplishments by the Free army which manifested in liberating al-Bab city were highly appreciated by the opponent political community and the public incubator of the Syrian revolution as they consider ISIS, PYD and Assad's forces supported by Iranian militias occupying forces.
It's noteworthy here that Assad's regime and the Kurdish forces have fiercely fought to completely control the region due to its geographical and residential importance, along with being a great support to the revolution.
In light of these data, we can understand why the Russians and the Americans moved early to prevent Euphrates Shield forces from reaching the region in a military step to enable there agents in Manbij and cut the land road between Ankara and the Arab world.
Manbij: Conflict Center of Bitter Friends
The most dangerous alliance here is that of Assad, Iran and the Kurds. Such alliance is using the pretext of combating terrorism to push the region towards an open was, and its media is constantly hyping up the war in order to plea Russia and the US to support them, while knowing that the reality of this conflict is far beyond the war on ISIS. On the other hand, the Turks and Euphrates Shield know well that allying with the Kurds and Iranian militias to fight ISIS is a brave mistake and this manifested in the declarations of the Turkish prime minister Ben Ali Yildirim who said that his country will never participate in any probable military operation in al-Raqqah if the Syrian branch of PKK is involved.
The US Department of Defense announced that its army has deployed a number of soldiers in Manbij for deterrence and enhancing confidence confirming that those forces don't have the authority to clash with other forces. On its part, Ankara wondered how would America fight the terrorists of ISIS by allying with another terrorist organization!
Euphrates Shield Among Savages
The accomplishments of the Free army in the Euphrates Shield operation that manifested in expelling ISIS to the further spot in Syria made the USA feels the real danger of a growing Sunni power in the region that threatens its interests there and so it pushed the separatist Kurdish units to make a deal with regime forces and the Iranian militias in order to avoid clashing with the Euphrates Shield. That's why it was obligatory for the Free army and the Turkish ally not to count on the savage international attitude which is working on complicating the relations of the warring regional parties in order to turn Manbij into a war zone for the Turks against the Kurds and the Iranians. However, it's absurd how Turkey is turning a blind eye towards the most dangerous threat to its political entity through counting on the agreements with Moscow and Washington, meaning that Ankara is conspiring on itself which will cause it to lose everything at the end unless it deeply realizes the importance of the Free army in the Euphrates Shield operation and works on bringing FSA forces back to the battle especially after the agreement between Assad's forces and the Kurdish separatist units to build a barrier that extends from south of al-Bab city to the villages of the western countryside of Manbij in order to prevent the Free army from existing in this strategical region.
Euphrates Shield And the Turkish Ally: Repeating the Mistake
The field situation in the eastern countryside of Aleppo shows that the separatist Kurdish units have managed through their alliances to put Assad's regime in confrontation with the Free Syrian army in the western countryside of Manbij because heading towards Manbij from the east means clashing with Assad's forces and the Iranian militias, and so FSA will be confronting Russia and the Americans who deployed military forces in the western part of Manbij, the thing that confused Turkey as it cannot stand against Moscow and Washington, even if this means losing Manbij.
Assad's forces have advanced east towards Manbij and delved deeply into al-Raqqah, then controlled the road of Aleppo-al-Jazeera through Manbij that is controlled by the Kurdish separatist units, the thing that gave them a strategical advantage to control the probable battle if FSA and the Euphrates Shield have tried to head towards Manbij, and so the features of the confrontations are highlighted depending on the geographical power and the control over the supplying roads.
Euphrates Shield forces, on the other hand, can guarantee the support of the public incubator as the separatists Kurdish units have carried out ethnic cleansing operations and suppressed the public freedoms regardless of the different ethnicities, including the Kurds who are against the separatist units.
The only choice for the Turkish is to support the Free army in regaining control over Manbij either through agreements with Washington or though fighting and Turkey is still in control of some pressure cards like moving FSA and the Islamic factions to cut the road connecting Nubul and al-Zahra'a with the city of Aleppo, and so Ankara is the guarantor of the ultimate separation between the cantons of the eastern Syrian region and Afrin. Such a step would never be confronted by Russia even if the Turks smashed down the Kurdish units, while Washington will support its Kurdish allies till the end. These are the reasons behind the meeting of the Russian, American, and Turkish Chiefs of Staff in Antalya in order to alleviate the tension resulting from the Turkish insistence on casting away the separatist units to the eastern part of the Euphrates.
In this regard, Ben Ali Yildirim has declared that Turkey won't alone launch an operation to control Manbij without cooperating with Russia and the USA, and so the policy and attitude of Turkey indicate that it's difficult for Ankara to cope with Moscow's wager, along with the brave mistake it did by counting on the policy of Washington and its role in the region.