Turkey to rename US Embassy street after offensive on Afrin

"Olive Branch" is the codename the Turkish army gave its operation against US-backed Kurdish forces defending Afrin.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Mayor of the Turkish capital of Ankara on Monday announced his municipality would rename a street by the US embassy after an ongoing military campaign targeting the besieged enclave of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).

“I signed a proposal to change the Nevzat Tandogan Street as ‘Olive Branch.’ Let our glorious martyrs’ souls rest in peace,” Mayor Mustafa Tuna tweeted.

Olive Branch is the codename the Turkish army gave its now four-weeks-long campaign to dislodge the Washington-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin.

The US Embassy in Ankara provides its address as 110 Ataturk Boulevard on its website.

Nevzat Tandogan Street, which the Mayor has proposed to rename, is on the north side of the ambassadorial compound.

Tuna, a member of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), became the capital’s mayor after the President forced his elected predecessor Melih Gokcek along with mayors of six other major cities to resign in November 2017.

In another tweet, he said the AKP-dominated municipal council would vote on the proposal on Wednesday.

Last month, Tuna also changed the name of a street where the United Arab Emirates is located, after UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan retweeted a post accusing the Ottoman Empire of having oppressed the Arabs.

New Ankara Mayor Mustafa Tuna shakes hands with President Erdogan at the latter's palace, November 2017. (Photo: TR Presidency)
New Ankara Mayor Mustafa Tuna shakes hands with President Erdogan at the latter's palace, November 2017. (Photo: TR Presidency)

His city named the street after an early 20th-century Ottoman commander and governor, Fakhri Pasha, who fought rebelling local Arab tribes in modern-day Saudi Arabia.

The Erdogan administration accuses the US of “supporting terrorists” for Washington’s continued advising, training, and arming of the Kurdish forces which lead the war on the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

The Turkish Army, backing Islamist factions grouped under the Free Syrian Army (FSA), has been staging intense airstrikes and ground shelling on Afrin where over 150 civilians have been killed and more than 60,000 displaced.

US President Donald Trump urged restraint in a phone call last month with Erdogan, falling short of a condemnation of the attack on his country’s partners in Syria.

In the weeks following, Erdogan threatened to expand the campaign on Afrin to include the town of Manbij and the rest of Rojava where US forces are based, despite a potential confrontation with Americans.

With ties between the two NATO allies reaching a breaking point, the Turkish government has stirred up nationalist and religious sentiments around the offensive on Afrin, ordering mosques around the country to pray for conquest with the Parliament’s Speaker describing the war on Syrian Kurds as “jihad.”

The pro-government Yenisafak newspaper wrote that a soldier killed four days ago in Afrin told his brother in a letter that the war against the US-backed YPG was one between the cross and crescent, two symbols representing Christianity and Islam respectively.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany