Atlanticist and Eurasian struggle for Al-Bab

While all the attention in the Syrian war is focused on the country's industrial and commercial capital of Aleppo, the city of Al-Bab is of strategic importance. Since 2013 the city has been controlled by ISIS and now faces both Eurasian power and the Atlanticist coalition

The Turkish Armed Forces, which started 'Euphrates Shield' operation in northern Syria, made a critical move, which changes the course of six years war in the region. In the terrorist corridor there is a plan to hit the US controlled PYD / YPG, the new target was announced at the end of August – Al-Bab city. Turkey made a second move continuing its plan; on September 3rd the Turkish Armed Forces finally entered Çobanbey in the Kilis district; border control was achieved. The strategic point to change the course of the war is Al Bab, the gateway to Syria's industrial and trade center, Aleppo. So what does this mean for all the sides? Why is the city so important? Here's the answer ...

Al Bab - the importance for Turkey

Al-Bab, until 2012, was not a factor Syria’s ongoing civil war in general. However, clashes after a demonstration held in the city on the 20th of April 2012, made it easier for the opposition  to gain a political base in the city. In May of the same year, through mid-July, the opposition had managed to create terrorists groups in the city. On July 18th, 2012 the city's last government headquarters were seized . Al-Bab, until November 2013, then passed to the control of ISIS.

ISIS has controlled it since 2013 and the population is mainly Sunni Arabs. The city of Al Bab is in a position of critical strategic importance for Turkey. In this context, it is a door to  Aleppo - the industrial and commercial capital of Syria, as well as the entry to the Afri Kurdish canton controlled by the PKK / PYD.

In this case also, by taking control of Azez and Jarabulus, Turkey strikes a major blow against plans to create an anti-Turkish terrorist corridor. Al Bab became a secondary mandatory target in a strategy of preventing terrorism and corridors, as well as the creation of "safe area"  in the northern Syria.

The importance of Al-Bab for US / PYD

The PYD with the support of the US Army seized Manbij on August 12th. The PYD announced in August that the next target would be Al-Bab and  proclaimed the establishment of the military council of Al-Bab. The focus of the PYD on Al-Bab is explained by the interest of creating corridor from Manbij, which lies westward, so expansion is the idea. Former CIA agent Henri Barkey advised PYD  to win the support of the United States with a strong trump card. In this context, he believes that the PYD also needs to make more space in order to have a powerful say in the negotiations. According to Barkey, the capture of Al-Bab by the PYD, if it is successful in defending it, will mean the continuation of the process towards Aleppo. This already means physically the establishment of a Kurdish corridor.

The importance of Al-Bab for ISIS

Al Bab is Aleppo's largest district and is also an extremely important foothold for ISIS due to the industrial center of the city, and that makes it really matter, it is the second largest central organization after Raqqa. ISIS is known to make a big buildup in this region. But above all, the city and the region is another important element that makes religious references. The town of Dabiq is located in 35 km from Al-Bab. And this is believed to be the place, where the final battle of Islamic eschatology will take place, ISIS uses its control over the area to make the call to all Muslims to come to the region to join the final battle.

The Importance of Al-Bab for Syria and Russia

The Syrian army has been keeping the city center of Aleppo under seige, which is controlled by the opposition. Russian jets also provide support for air strikes against the besieged. Recently the opposition declared that it was breaking the siege by opening the city's north-west 2.5 mile corridor, but the Syrian Arab Army restored the siege and announced that it cut the supply routes. Al-Bab is important to them as a north gate to Aleppo, and to cut off supply lines that feed terrorist elements in Aleppo, is as well of great importance in terms of boosting the armed forces in the north.

The text based on the analysis of Mustafa Birol Guger