Despite every effort to mediate over the increase in violence in Idlib, it has become clear that Turkey’s root intentions are to retain, or attempt to retain, Syrian territory it has long coveted.
To do this, Turkey, as the other Sochi Agreement partners, Iran and Russia, see it, has failed to keep its word. Turkey has clearly failed to separate terrorists recognized as such, though supported openly by the West, from the terrorists it supports. What are we saying?
“Sochi” never stood on strong ground as long as it humored Erdogan by allowing him to continue war on Syria. Sochi was intended to be a process, one that has now clearly failed, unless, of course, an unexpected de-escalation can be brought about.
But Turkey has a side as well and is now choosing to blame Iran for the deterioration in events, events that of mid-February 2020 shows that despite Turkey’s military intervention, the Syrian Arab Army, with aid by Iranian ground forces and Russia’s Aerospace capability, is soundly defeating all terrorist groups.
From Anadolou Agency, an Istanbul based news agency that can be said to represent Turkish interests:
“Following the Arab spring, the historical competition between Iran and Turkey has gained momentum.
While Turkey is supporting grassroots movements in the region within the framework of stable peace and democratization vision, Iran is making use of the lack of authority by reorganizing proxy powers like Hezbollah, utilizing differences between sects, thus creating its own faithful Shiite militia forces.
In this process, the two countries have different visions for the Middle East and created more tension in relations.
Turkey’s vision of regional development and integration is pitched against Iran’s regional strategy prioritizing geopolitical wins. The most important ground for this conflict has become Syria.
In terms of the Syrian civil war, Iran has stood against Turkey from the very beginning and placed more than 80 Shiite militias in Syria. Not once reacting to Israel’s hundreds of air attacks in the south of the country, Tehran was aggressively against Turkey-backed Syrian National Army on the northern front.
Ignoring Ankara’s concerns in the fight against terrorism during Operation Peace Spring, Tehran is now setting its Shiite militias in the field in motion against Turkey, who is actively endeavoring to prevent a humanitarian crisis.
Following Russia’s support for Turkey after the July 15 coup attempt, Ankara and Moscow have been in a process of convergence policy.
The two countries have embraced the “win-win” approach rather than zero-sum competition in Syria. Instead of conflict, they have now decided to cooperate.
Not having played a role in Ankara-Moscow convergence policies specifically about the issue of Syria, Tehran had to include itself in this process later. However, despite all of these efforts for collaboration, Russia’s and especially Iran’s aims in Syria have started to conflict with Turkey’s national interests. Upon attacks in Idlib, this conflict is now for the plain eye to see. While at this point Russia shows from time to time that it is open for negotiations if necessary and Assad is not irreplaceable, Iran equates Assad’s survival to its own now.”
What we can see here, clearly, is that Turkey is prepared to come to terms, at some point with Russia. What is also clear is that continual statements from Russia making clear their intent to back Syria until 100% of territory is retaken from terrorist control, are not being listened to.
Were one to look at the situation, on the ground in Syria, at the time of writing, Iran is moving significant forces into the region including IRGC units.
Iran is deeply resentful of the US and the assassination of Soleimani, particularly since the New York Times article that has made the actions on the part of the US so much more serious than simply the murder of a high-ranking perceived enemy. From the New York Times, February 14, 2020:
“Washington ordered the assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani to sabotage de-escalation talks between Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates following a report by Israel’s Mossad spy agency, according to the New York Times.
The paper reported on Thursday that General Soleimani had been arranging talks in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in order to de-escalate tensions with Tehran.
The Times wrote that the talks happened after Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are central to the Trump administration’s so-called regional alliance seeking to pressure Iran, began to question the efficiency of Washington’s anti-Iran campaign.
According to the report, one such meeting took place last September in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates where a plane carrying “senior Iranian officials” landed for talks.
News of the meeting, which reached Washington only after it was notified by reports from American spy agencies, “set off alarms inside the White House”, according to the report. The report added that a similar mediation attempt, also arranged by Gen. Soleimani, was underway between Tehran and Riyadh using Iraqi and Pakistani intermediaries.
The report wrote that the developments had greatly concerned Israel, which had been trying to push the Trump administration to exert more pressure on Tehran.
According to the Times, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Mossad chief Yossi Cohen on October during a trip to Israel where he was briefed on Iran’s attempted de-escalation talks with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Cohen warned Pompeo that Tehran was effectively on the verge of achieving its “primary goal” of breaking up the so-called “anti-Iran” alliance. A few months later in early January, General Soleimani was assassinated by Washington’s order while on a formal visit to Baghdad.”
A February 16, 2020 article by Jakov Kadmi, a Soviet born Israeli statesman and figure among those opposed to Netanyahu’s policies, was telling. Kadmi is clear on one thing, though Israel is staying out of the conflict in Idlib, Israel sees it as a red line having a Turkish backed regime in Damascus.
Kedmi, who has a long history in clandestine operations, has perhaps the clearest argument thus far, most likely due to his position, “well back from the table.”
“Now in Idlib is the largest group of terrorists, and Turkey supports them. Without the support of Erdogan, they would have long been destroyed. Turkey has always had claims to the northern territories of Syria.
Turkey now has impudent rhetoric. Turks deliver weapons to terrorists in Idlib, they protect their remains, not only that, they also sent Turkish troops there.
Why is the Idlib region so important, because it is from there that the constant terrorist attacks on the Syrian troops are carried out and there can be no peace in Syria without the liquidation of this group.
Since Aleppo is nearby, it is constantly subjected to attacks by the Isis, moreover, attacks from terrorists launching drones at the Khmeimim base come from there, and this is a threat to the Russian military group.
Russia is tired of all this; the Turks are not doing anything to curb terrorists. On the other hand, Idlib is Syrian territory and why Russia should restrain Syrian forces? Turkey is preventing today from establishing stability and order in Syria.
In this situation, Russia has only one way out to pacify this Turkish Sultan – this is the use of force, other options simply do not exist. Aside, Russia can no longer sit.
Things can go so far that Russia can deliver an ultimatum to Turkey, if Turkey uses artillery when the Syrian forces attack terrorists, it will be suppressed by the airborne forces, and if Turkey takes off planes they will be shot down.
For Russia, peace in Syria is important, since in the future there will be two Russian bases in this country, without which Russia will no longer be able to ensure security in the Black Sea.
So, Russia will support the Syrian troops in Idlib so that the Turks do not speak and threaten there, Russia has no other choice.”
There is yet a more sinister view of events that ties Erdogan’s actions to broader issues both internally for Turkey and failing relations and broken promise involving Europe.
The material below is from an intelligence briefing held in Damascus, no public nor press allowed, translated from Russian by VT’s Damascus bureau, the only media invited:
“One of Erdogan’s previously proclaimed principles – “zero problems with neighbors” is suffering a terrible collapse. Turkey’s problems are growing from all sides, both from Iran and from Syria, but most importantly, the position of the United States and its “NATO allies” in the form of France is completely incomprehensible.
France is the “Rothschild Sword”. And the Rothschilds are not happy with Erdogan.
They need control over the Israel-Egypt-Greece-EU gas pipeline, and the rest of Libya’s hydrocarbon wealth, which is very necessary for the controllers of Macron, for whom he worked at “the bank.”
Add to this that, despite all the bravura statements about the “victories” of the rebels, their losses are growing, and panic is emerging in the ranks. Moreover, in the speeches of Erdogan, the word “hopeless” is always there to be heard, perhaps through the silence and deception.
In Syria, Erdogan faces a political impasse.
The situation itself cannot be regulated by force of arms. Obviously, the Turkish Mujahideen will not be able to win a decisive military victory, even if Turkey will stand at their side. Neither the US nor the EU or NATO will support the Turks and never allow the Mujahideen Erdogan to power in Damascus.
Israel will never allow the Turkish army to go to its borders. This is a dead end.”
What is clear here is that the Idlib conflict is being played out on a broader field than amateur analysts have perceived. Thus, what we see is that Turkey is chasing oil and gas, predictably, onshore in Idlib, the deposits recognized in 2012 and which, quite probably led to the fake “Arab Spring” moves against Damascus, but also offshore in Cyprus and in Turkish ambitions in Libya. It is these interests and Turkish military involvement in Libya that has raised the bar as far as potential Turkish conflict with key EU members. More from the same source:
“In Libya, the situation is even worse, Erdogan does not seem to understand with whom he contracted, Sarraj and his PNS, these are just puppets who do not control the situation in the country.
There is an inter-tribal war in the country, and the main violin is played by Misurata fighters, which are essentially crypto-Jewish tribes, at one time formally converted to Islam. In fact, they pursue only their own goals and those of Israel, through its puppet Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt who supports Haftar.” (text redacted)
This adds to the mix Israel’s interest in becoming a major player in oil and gas, not just in Mediterranean offshore deposits but in controlling pipelines and in following America’s lead in hydrocarbon proxy wars. More:
“It is completely unclear how Erdogan, who knocks on the door of the EU and wants to become a member of the EU, wants to combine the challenge of all the “great powers” with the desire to join the EU?
In Europe, France and Greece, as well as reflecting (as yet) Italy, have put together an anti-Turkish coalition. But what if Russia joins this coalition? Of course, Russia absolutely does not need an alliance against Turkey, but it has its own interests in Libya and Syria. Moreover, no one in Europe as a whole is ready to see the new Ottoman Empire at their borders.”
With Britain leaving the EU and a new NATO bolstered by a cartoonish American regime, the reality of a new Ottoman Empire takes on a life of its own, an increasingly important life as Erdogan’s political position domestically becomes increasingly tenuous as the Lira dissolves into worthlessness.
The Ottoman enclaves in the Balkans and the Gates of Vienna bring reality to a Turkish sphere of influence that has already engulfed Macedonia and one that sees new opportunities for expansion across the Bosporus. More:
“Erdogan is and always has been Muslim Brotherhood, and that will never be allowed in Europe. (Foreign Minister) Chavushoglu, the other day with irritation, spoke about not understanding why Turkey cannot join the EU. He said that Turkey’s patience is running out. And then what? Military operation against the EU?
But this is for the sake of “joke – humor.” Chavushoglu promised the Europeans rapid economic growth and generally prosperity under the Ottoman flag, but he did not begin to link the actual military confrontation with Greece, Cyprus and now France with the entry into the European Union.
The EU is already experiencing hard times, and the appearance of neo – Ottomans in its ranks will mean that the two Vienna battles were in vain. Turkey will begin to crush the Bulgarians and Macedonians and Bosnians, and even the Greeks themselves, moreover, by purely economic methods and economic expansion.
Erdogan mistakenly believes that Europe will calmly observe neo-Ottoman revenge in the Middle East. But he has no choice. Either successes in foreign policy, supported by pro-Islamic slogans, or defeat in the elections.”
Turkey’s military, though competent and robust, is incapable of extended military operations within the Middle East. The “neighborhood” is far too dangerous, particularly if Turkey is forced to operate armor without air cover, something denied them in Syria.
A policy of “dancing with terrorists” in Syria or turning to the US, the same people who orchestrated the 2016 coup attempt against him, or, worse still, verbal threats, has left Erdogan in an unenviable position.
What is before him is “door number one,” where Erdogan can choose to work with Russia to build a regional trade and economic sphere where military conflict will no longer be an issue.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”