More fire — on Turkey’s Afrin assault
Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militants on the Syrian border could spin out of control
Turkey’s military intervention (हस्तक्षेप) in the Syrian border town of Afrin against Kurdish militants is a grim (भयानक) reminder of the complexities of the seven-year-long Syrian civil war. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) played a crucial role in the battle against the Islamic State, ousting (निकाल देना) it from eastern Syria late last year. In the war, the U.S. provided air cover to YPG-led troops, while the Syrian army and Russia avoided directly clashing with them. But once the IS threat receded (हटना), the old geopolitical calculations returned, with Turkey, facing Kurdish militancy at home, turning against Syrian Kurds. Ankara has been warning against empowering Kurdish militants. It sees the Syrian YPG as a vassal (जागीरदार) of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the main insurgent group battling government troops in southeast Turkey. Now that the fight against the IS is virtually over, or at least for now, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is concerned that the YPG, with renewed battleground experience and weapons supplied by the West, could offer support to the PKK. When the U.S. announced plans to create a 30,000-strong Kurdish border force, an alarmed Turkey announced the offensive in Afrin. The plan is to oust YPG guerrillas (छापेमार आंदोलन) from the town and hand it over to Turkish proxies. From Afrin, they could move to other cities now held by the YPG.
Mr. Erdoğan would like to create a buffer (प्रतिरोधक) between Turkey and Syrian Kurdistan. There is a convergence of interest among Russia, Syria, Iran and Turkey in the Afrin assault. Mr. Erdoğan sent troops into Afrin only after getting Russian assent. For Russia, which is at present bombing rebel/jihadist positions in Syria’s Idlib, Turkish cooperation is needed to continue the mission and it will turn a blind eye to the Afrin attack. For Syria and Iran, which see Kurdish militants as separatists and potential threats, the assault is a blessing in disguise. Yet, despite the tacit (गर्भित) regional support Turkey now enjoys, the attack could prove counterproductive. First, the U.S. has been completely sidelined in the operation. If the rift between the U.S. and Turkey, both NATO allies, keeps widening over Syria, the proxy battles in the country could acquire their own momentum. Second, the YPG has proved its worth in the ground battles against the IS since 2015. It is not a fragile (कमज़ोर) militia group that can be pushed over easily with a ground offensive. Besides, the YGP has enormous local support in Kurdish towns along the border. Third, even if Turkey ousts the YPG from Afrin, it won’t ease tensions on the border. Rather, it would drag Turkey deeper into the Syrian conflict. This means that Syria’s border region, which is among the hardest-hit by the civil war, is likely to see more bloodshed and destruction in the coming months, if not years, unless all countries involved in the conflict change course from war to talks.
1. Intervention: Interference by a state in another’s affairs.
Synonyms: involvement, intercession, interceding, interposing, interposition
Antonyms: disregard, ignore, overlook, avoid, eschew, shun
2. Grim: difficult to endure
Synonyms: bitter, brutal, burdensome, cruel, excruciating, grievous, harsh, hard, hardhanded, heavy, inhuman, murderous, onerous, oppressive, rough, rugged, searing, severe, stiff, tough, trying
Antonyms: easy, light, soft, agreeable, friendly, genial, hospitable, pleasant, bearable, endurable, painless, tolerable
3. Ousting: Drive out or expel (someone) from a position or place.
Synonyms: drive out, expel, force out, throw out, remove, remove from office, remove from power, eject, get rid of, depose, topple, unseat, overthrow, bring down, overturn, put out, drum out, thrust out, push out, turn out, purge, evict, dispossess, dismiss, dislodge, displace, supplant, disinherit, show someone the door
4. Receded: Go or move back or further away from a previous position.
Synonyms: abate, decline, de-escalate, die (away or down or out), diminish, drain (away), drop (off), dwindle, ease, ebb, fall, fall away, lessen, let up, lower, moderate, pall, phase down, ratchet (down) also rachet (down), decrease, relent, remit, shrink, subside, taper, taper off, wane
Antonyms: accumulate, balloon, build, burgeon (also bourgeon), enlarge, escalate, expand, grow, increase, intensify, mount, mushroom, pick up, rise, snowball, soar, swell, wax
5. Vassal: A person or country in a subordinate position to another.
Synonyms: subordinate, inferior, deputy, junior, assistant, adjutant, aide, minion, lackey, flunkey, menial, retainer, subject, serf, hireling, servant, henchman, myrmidon, right-hand man, right-hand woman, girl friday, man friday, factotum, stooge
6. Guerrillas: A member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces.
Synonyms: freedom fighter, underground fighter, irregular soldier, irregular, resistance fighter, member of the resistance, partisan
Antonyms: Conformist, ally, conform, kowtow, stalwart
7. Buffer: A person or thing that reduces a shock or that forms a barrier between incompatible or antagonistic people or things.
Synonyms: cushion, bulwark
Antonyms: expose, hardedn, duller, small
8. Tacit: Understood or implied without being stated.
Synonyms: implicit, understood, implied, inferred, hinted, suggested, insinuated
Antonyms: silent, unsaid, implicit, implied, unuttered, unvoiced, taciturn
9. Fragile: easily broken or damaged.
Synonyms: breakable, easily broken, brittle, frangible, smashable, splintery, flimsy, weak, frail, insubstantial, delicate, dainty, fine
Antonyms: firm, strong, durable, robust, stubby, salubrious
Political tango — on Shiv Sena-BJP ties
Shiv Sena and BJP have shown they can have a relationship even if they can’t have an alliance
The only surprise in the Shiv Sena’s decision to go it alone in future elections is the timing. With parliamentary elections more than a year away and in the absence of any political compulsion to reveal its hand now, it is not clear what led the Sena to make the announcement. It is public knowledge that the BJP and the Sena, to understate (संतुलित तरीके से व्यक्त करना) the point, are not on the best of terms — even in the Assembly election of 2014, the Sena fought without its erstwhile (पहले का) ally. The truth is that both parties are at a stage in their political life when one can grow in Maharashtra only at the expense of the other. This is no ideological rift. The Sena, even from the reign of its founder Bal Thackeray, had sought to expand beyond Marathi chauvinism (अतिराष्ट्रीयता) by embracing (आलिंगन) hardline Hindutva. The differences between the two parties were entirely over sharing of seats for the Assembly election, a result of the BJP seeking a larger share than before on the basis of its better performance in the Lok Sabha polls, held just months earlier. If the seat negotiations sowed the seeds of the rift, the results of the elections effectively ended any chance of a revival of a pre-poll alliance. The Sena, used to being the senior partner in the alliance, finished way behind the BJP in the election, and had to join the Maharashtra government with several bruises to its political ego. As things stand, if the Sena wants an alliance with the BJP in 2019, it can only be as a junior partner. This is unthinkable for Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who is under some pressure to erase the impression that he is not politically as tough as his father, Bal.
All signals from the Sena’s national executive indicate that it sees the BJP more as a rival than as an ally. Mr. Thackeray seems unable to reconcile himself to the changed political equations in Maharashtra, as he has vowed to compete with the BJP for Hindutva votes in other States. The unstated purpose appears to be to hurt the BJP wherever he can, in retaliation (प्रति-हिंसा) for encroaching upon the Sena’s space in Maharashtra. But for all the belligerence (परियुद्धक) of the Sena, the BJP is unmoved. The national party looks as if it is treating its regional ally as an errant child. The BJP does not need the Sena’s support at the Centre; in Maharashtra, where it is short of a majority, it is not asking its partner to leave the government. The BJP tries to wear the attitude of an indulgent (अनुग्रहशील) senior partner, one that is reluctant to act in anger or haste. As for the Sena, it has chosen to refrain (दूर रहना) from attempting to pull down the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra and to stay on in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. In short, the two parties have signalled they can still be in a relationship, if not an alliance. They may fight elections separately, but they can still rule together.
- Understate: Describe or represent (something) as being smaller or less good or important than it really is.
Synonyms: play down, downplay, make light of, underrate, rate too low, not do justice to, do an injustice to, underplay, de-emphasize, underemphasize, trivialize, minimize, diminish, downgrade, reduce, lessen, brush aside, gloss over, shrug off
Antonyms: highlight, exaggerate, overstate, magnify, amplify, hyperbolize, inflate, overdo, dramatize, embellish, hyperbolize
- Erstwhile: Former
Synonyms: former, old, past, one-time, sometime, as was, ex-, late, then
Antonyms: contemporary, current, extant, ongoing, present, present-day
- Chauvinism: Exaggerated or aggressive patriotism.
Synonyms: jingoism, excessive patriotism, blind patriotism, excessive nationalism, sectarianism, isolationism, excessive loyalty, flag-waving, xenophobia, racism, racialism, racial prejudice, ethnocentrism, ethnocentricity
- Embracing: to take for one’s own use (something originated by another)
Synonyms: borrow, adopt, espouse, take on, take up
Antonyms: discard, jettison, junk, throw away, throw out
- Retaliation: The action of returning a military attack; counter-attack.
Synonyms: revenge, vengeance, reprisal, retribution, requital, recrimination, an eye for an eye, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, getting even, redress, repayment, payback
Antonyms: clemency, grace, leniency, lenity, mercy, forgiveness, pardon, remission
- Belligerence: an inclination to fight or quarrel
Synonyms: aggression, aggressiveness, assaultiveness, bellicosity, belligerency, combativeness, contentiousness, defiance, disputatiousness, feistiness, fight, militance, militancy, militantness, pugnacity, quarrelsomeness, scrappiness, truculence
Antonyms: nonaggression, pacifism, affability, amiability, amicability, benevolence, cordiality, friendliness, geniality, graciousness, pleasantness, sociability, amenability, complaisance, placability
- indulgent: Having or indicating a readiness or over-readiness to be generous to or lenient with someone.
Synonyms: permissive, easy-going, broad-minded, liberal, tolerant, forgiving, forbearing, lenient, merciful, clement, mild, humane, kind, kindly, soft-hearted, caring, compassionate, understanding, sympathetic
Antonyms: hard, harsh, severe, stern, strict, inflexible, intolerant, unbending, uncompromising, unyielding