After many years of waiting, Turkey’s Muslims rejoiced at the opportunity to perform their Friday and Eid prayers at the Hagia Sophia. That joy, to nobody’s surprise, went hand in hand with a war of words between Turkish politicians. Critics speculated that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration intended to “restore the caliphate,” claiming that Turkey’s top imam had “cursed” Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the republic’s founder, in his Friday sermon.
International focus has been on the Middle East for decades and particularly on Iran, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Libya over the past several years. However, whatever is written about the Middle East, Russia is always part of the equation.
What are the main objectives of the operation? What is the scope of Operation Peace Spring? What is the background of the operation? How will the operational process work? What are the reactions from the international community? How can they be interpreted?
There are three items on President Erdoğan's agenda: Turkey's request for support regarding the fate of Syrian refugees, Erdoğan's commitment to setting up a safe zone in northeastern Syria and his emphasis on injustices in the current world order. I believe that the Turkish president will touch upon those issues in his address to the U.N. General Assembly as well as bilateral meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel. Erdoğan's recent remarks about nuclear weapons relate to the search for a new world order, as encapsulated by the maxim: "The world is bigger than five." After all, revealing one's intention to become a nuclear power makes little sense if one indeed means it.