Syria: Erdogan’s Tough Choices

Sochi agreement on the demilitarized Idlib belt offers risks – and opportunities.

The chain of events is now allowing prognoses: After the fall of IS/Daesh strongholds in Duma/Damascus and Daraa the Syrian government and its allies Russia and Iran took quite a while to pick up the thrust and start attacking the HTS stronghold Idlib and the sounding areas close to Aleppo in the east and Hama in the south, where many other militia groups from a variety of political backgrounds are operating. Already in these weeks it became clear, that partner Turkey slowed down the momentum of Syria’s liberation of terror militias. The September 7 summit of the three partners Russia, Turkey and Iran was widely perceived as the kick-off meeting for the storm on Idlib – with a reluctant Erdogan ready for compromise.

But that wasn’t the case: The outgoing NATO member and courageous anti-cartel fighter Erdogan had a special set of prerogatives, which first halted the Idlib campaign and then was finally brought to bear in a one-on-one summit with Russian president Putin – September 17 in Sochi. Within hours Iran demonstratively signaled consent, Syria followed the next morning, Hezbollah sent its approval – more is impossible. Washington was so surprised, its comments appeared tight-lipped. True friends of Syria criticized rightly, that giving Turkey time until October 15 was effectively granting the terrorists more time, too, prolonging the suffering of the people in the region and risking increased interference by enemies. These are the most important disadvantages and risks of the Sochi result. They may explain the extreme tension among the Russian leaders watched by participants and observers of the final press conference in Sochi. The Russian government has in fact achieved a success of historic dimensions. In the course of very complicated negotiations with a new potential future partner, an alternative to the ancient-looking Soviet system was successfully established and is bearing fruits: Moscow has heeded appeals by President Erdogan and has established a procedure taking into account special requirements and granting Ankara freedom and time, however limited, to achieve commune goals. Erdogan thus goes into his German state visit with President Steinmeier and Chancellor Merkel with an accord in his pocket, which offers far-reaching potentials – apart from NATO and EU restrictions. The western approach to Turkey looks a lot more self-centered and oppressive than anything Russia has done and offered.

The whole Sochi process and its glorious finale should be explained from Turkey’s special situation. President Erdogan fights an awesome war on two fronts against the cartel-dominated and Washington-led action to push Ankara back into line, in fact: into submission and obedience. Turkey’s currency and national economy is under attack by the financial cartel, economic sanctions like fresh tariffs, silent mobbing against Turkish companies and exports: that is the more civilized side of this dirty type of policies. There is a cruel and murderous side, too: Washington threatens Turkey’s security by publicly announcing allocation of 500 million US dollars for fiscal year 2019 on top of the same amount for 2018 to support foundation of a PKK-terror-controlled „Kurdish“ state alongside Turkey’s southern border with Syria – on Syrian territory and without any invitation from the legitimate government in Damascus. It’s a simple question of „do or die“ for Ankara to thwart this plan.

This kind of double-faced relationship with Washington has a long and brutal tradition in Turkey, not starting with the hanging of Turkish chancellor Adnan Menderes (1961, after a military coup, 1960) and not ending with President Turgut Özal (poisoned, 1993), not to forget: There was a little coup attempt in 2016 – with the help of the lackluster CIA, too. And the full clout of longstanding US-Turkish relationships into all Turkish institutions, centered in the wholly US-trained Turkish army. That highly sophisticated US-ruled subversion and oppression system suffered a huge setback not only in the Erdogan-led „Ergenekon“ trials and campaign. It was through an originally western/EU-supported democratization process, that the Turkish leader took the sting out of the permanent threat of a coup by the special Turkish military caste, „Ergenekon“ was just the seal on this overdue activity, much to Washington’s dismay early on.

It was only until the US made unmistakably clear they were continuously committed to their criminal PKK-based terror games at the expense of the whole Turkey relationship, that Erdogan was forced to gradually open up much more to its now already well-developed Russian ties, of which the latest Sochi achievement is just another example. With dire consequences threatening the core of Turkey’s national existence today – as in the background looms yet another equally terrible challenge: Turkey had assisted Washington since 2006 to settle CIA personnel in Hatay and other provinces to infiltrate into Syria, had assisted IS/Daesh over the years until now and finally used its clout with the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army to take Afrin from US-backed YPG/PKK forces. That system is now in jeopardy and probably about to fail. For Turkey, the way back into the obedient rank and file of NATO is mined twice: By CIA ties to PKK/YPG on one side – and to IS/Daesh on the other: Washington could easily and any day manage those terror militias to start operation in Turkey itself. Longstanding personal contacts by Ankara’s secret and military institutions to these forces might even threaten Erdogan’s personal security. Also, Ankara’s/Erdogan’s courageous stance against Israel’s occupation and oppression of Palestine would suffer from any Turkish „white flag solution“ with rapprochement to Washington’s wishes. At stake is a terrible loss of credibility: Erdogan’s competition with the Saudi rulers about their much-questioned role as guardians of Islam’s most important locations of pilgrimage and worship: Mekka and Medina – would be lost.

Tough choices for Turkey’s hitherto successful leader and any Osman dreams. If he assists in taking away the Syrian territorial basis from internationalist IS/Daesh militias, he had better show (and finance for) them another target and new challenges. A new strategy is needed – accompanied by a communication strategy; otherwise the battle for Turkey’s independence from Washington may be lost for a very long time to come.

On the other hand, a new regional security system stems from the simple truth, that sustainable security always comes in the shape of a stable security partnership. And the secret of stability lies in wise strategic choices: The Kurdish problem is solved much better in a joint effort with the other three countries hosting their minorities, such as Syria, Iraq and Iran. That perspective strongly diminishes the threats of a divorce from IS/Daesh- based strategies, which were never of Turkish origin, but wholly CIA and Mossad-based. And the bigger picture is even more attractive: Eurasia is the future; at present, Washington’s revived isolationist ideas and Europe’s weak-looking dithering are not offering a real choice.

Picture: © Qasioun News Agency, Wiki: CC-BY-3.0


Russian original: