On January 20, Turkey launched a military offensive against the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in the Afrin district of northern Syria. Ironically code-named “Operation Olive Branch,” the offensive was proudly described by Turkish Parliament Speaker Ismail Kahraman as “jihad,” a holy war, without which “there can be no progress.”
Parroting this sentiment, both pro- and anti-government mainstream media outlets in Turkey endorsed the Afrin invasion, using similar jihadist slogans. One newspaper that did not do so was the Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Afrika, which headlined its coverage of the offensive by comparing it to Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus, which it called a “peace operation.”
In a column criticizing Turkey’s invasions in the region, the owner and editor of Afrika, Şener Levent, wrote:
“Turkey comes up with such egregious names for its war operations. The one on Cyprus was called a ‘peace operation.’ The one in Syria is now ‘the olive branch operation.’ We did see the peace operation. It was bombs and not flowers of peace that rained from jets. Your heroic pilot even bombed a mental hospital in Nicosia. I saw a dead body trapped between the two floors of a hotel bombed in Maraş [the Cypriot town of Varosha]. Was that the symbol of the peace operation? Captives who were executed by firing squads… Women who were raped… And a soldier who cut the ears off his victims… Those were the symbols of peace, right?
“Now it is the ‘olive branch operation.’ But from the skies, seeds of death and not olive beans are raining on Afrin.”