We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

Could the Latest Outburst of Ankara's Temper Lead to Escalation in Syria?

15 0 0
18.02.2020

So far Turkey, militarily the second mightiest NATO country, has been able to get away with virtually anything it has chosen to brew in the Middle East.

The reason why, is simple: to confront Turkey’s bullying and expansionism militarily would be like confronting the United States or Israel; thousands of innocent people would die as a result, or perhaps even millions.

Moscow is well aware of the situation. Its diplomacy is superb. And its desire to keep Syria as one entity has gained admiration and support in many parts of the world. But not in the West, not in Israel and not in Ankara.

Periodically, Russia and Turkey are able to find common ground, on many issues. The people of both countries like each other a lot; there are great cultural, economic and strategic ties. And to give credit where it is due, both governments are ready to compromise, on various essential issues.

But periodically, there comes a time when the Turkish administration begins to acts irrationally and unpredictably. During such moments, agreements begin to collapse, and people die. Russia gets caught between a rock and the deep blue sea. Russia wants to resolve things peacefully, but it is also determined to protect its most important ally in the Middle East – Syria.

The problem is that while the Russian government is extremely rational, the Turkish government is often not. And when logic and hysteria meet, the consequences can be very dangerous.

***

In Damascus, most of the people analyze the situation with a clear mind. My government contacts in Syria wrote for this essay:

“Russia was invited to fight terrorism, by both Syrian government and by the Syrian people. Turkish forces are occupation forces. They were not invited by anybody. They cross into our territory, whenever they choose, and it is both immoral and illegal. Turkey supports terrorists here.”

My colleague, a leading Turkish intellectual, Erkin Oncan, and an expert on the Turkish-Russian relationship, commented for this essay from Istanbul:

“Erdogan has been playing a ‘balance game’ between the US and Russia, since the coup attempt in 2016. Erdogan’s government has developed good relations with Russia. On the other hand, Turkey never ceased sending messages to the US: We are your real allies in the Middle East; we, not the Kurds.”

For years, Turkish, Russian and Syrian analysts knew: Erdogan has been playing it both ways. Too much depended on Turkey’s involvement, both negative and positive things; but mostly negative. Even the United States handles Ankara with ‘silk gloves’, compared to how it deals with other rebellious allies.

Mr. Oncan continues:

“Turkey never raised level of tensions so high as now.”

“Despite everything, Russia was the best alternative for AKP’s ‘anti-American’ stand. Turkey developed serious economic........

© New Eastern Outlook