The reason behind Turkey's 'safe zone' in Syria

Published: Fri 25 Oct 2019, 9:05 PM

Last updated: Fri 25 Oct 2019, 11:06 PM

Turkey's "Operation Peace Spring", which aims to displace Kurds and establish, what President Recep Erdogan calls, a 30km 'safe zone' alongside the 400 km Turkey-Syria border, has been condemned by most countries.
The commentaries and analyses of Turkey's latest onslaught on the Kurds have mostly focused on the history of the Kurdish-Turkish conflict and its relation to Turkey's national security concerns and the Syrian refugee crisis. But there are two crucial reasons that have been overlooked: the economic crisis in Turkey as well as Erdogan's political challenges at home.
A less highlighted rationale behind Turkey's invasion of Syria is that Turkey is seeking to lift its economy out of the ongoing economic crisis. In fact, Turkey's debt-driven economy has long been suffering from the structural pressures of currency exchange rate valuation risks and liquidity risks. The crisis has been further deepening this year, as the Turkish lira has lost value against the US dollar, the stock market has continued to decline and government borrowing costs have become more expensive than ever before.
The Turkish construction industry requires particular attention as it has been the locomotive of the Turkish economy, particularly since the 2001-2002 debt-crisis.
Nonetheless, despite being the largest employer in Turkey and the second largest exporter - only behind China - in the world, long gone are its shining days when it outperformed all other industry sectors in Turkey.
The Turkish construction industry has been facing an oversupply crisis, demanding new profitable spaces to explore and develop. Turkey's 'safe zone' plan promises a $26b-worth new market for the industry, which could boost the Turkish economy's recovery. As a matter of fact, and quite unsurprisingly, shares of Turkish cement firms have risen for two straight days on expectations of a much-needed building boom. Erdogan has been looking forward to this for a long time.
- The Wire

By Celal Cahit Agar & Steffen Böhm

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