This article was published in Turkish on 10.07.2019 in the leading Turkish newspaper “Aydinlyk”.
Well-known pro-Kremlin political analyst Alexander Dugin spoke on the basis of his research about the latest events in Syrian Idlib. Dugin’s article was published in some of the Turkish media. According to the Russian expert, the dramatic situation in Idlib could cause a crack in the Moscow-Ankara geopolitical axis. Dugin predicts: in case of continuation of the Turkish policy in Syria, the split between Moscow and Ankara is inevitable. We present Azeri Daily readers with interesting conclusions of the Russian author.
After Damascus won a decisive victory over the Islamic state and the most serious opponents from among the Salafi groups, which were relying on the support of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and indirectly the United States and Israel, those forces that are winners in the tragic and bloody Syrian war — that is, Russia , Iran and Turkey — face new problems.
If earlier everything was more or less clear and unambiguous — the main goal was to crush the resistance of radical islamists (while for Turkey, the main threat was the Kurds of the opposition, who were supported by Israel, the United States and European regimes) — today the situation has become more complicated. First of all, a political solution to the future of Syria is required.
The entire coalition of winners — Assad, Russia, Iran and Turkey — supported the territorial integrity of Syria, which was a response to the US plans to redraw the borders in the region (map of Ralph Peters). The first part of this plan, the military one, has been fulfilled. Now on the agenda is the transition to the second half: political. And there will be no less problems, and even more.
Idlib is a touchstone
Today, the geopolitical picture of Syria is as follows. Damascus and its closest allies — Russia and Iran — control most of the territory in the west of the country and in its centre. Turkey, still formally hostile to Assad, strengthened its influence in the north-west. Turkey acts on the tacit agreement of Russia, which wants to achieve a strategic partnership with Ankara, as well as to force the Kurds to get out of the influence of Israel and the West and get closer to Damascus. That is why the protests against the introduction of the Turkish troops of Assad were rather soft. The Kurds still control the northeast of the country east of the Euphrates. They rely on the support of Israel and the United States, whose military bases are located on their territory.
The Kurds have taken control of large areas with a predominantly Arab population, which requires them to have a new political agenda. At the same time, the Kurds are sharply hostile to Turkey and do not want to enter into dialogue with Damascus and Moscow, while continuing to rely on the US. The United States also supports radical islamists in southeastern Syria (base at Al-Tanf).
Kurdish militia as the main bridgehead of the United States and Israel
But the main problem is at the moment Idlib and the territory adjacent to it, which contributes the greatest contradictions to the ranks of the allies: first of all, Russia and Turkey. Only after solving the problem of Idlib can they proceed to the final phase: the resolution of the Kurdish issue and the demand for the final withdrawal of American troops from Syria, and then to the final chord – the harmonisation of the political model of the future Syria. Idlib is a touchstone, on which the future depends. If you go through this moment, the situation will become much clearer.
Idlib as the main obstacle to the strategic interests of Turkey
Idlib’s problem is that, by virtue of a certain well-established model, Erdogan continues to consider himself the guarantor of the part of the Assad opposition that has developed in this region. In fact, this state of affairs is a tribute to the past, the period when Erdogan tried to build his policy on close alliance with radical Islam, which he later refused in favour of rapprochement with the Eurasian vector of his policy and concerted actions with Moscow. But Ankara still considers itself responsible for the position of militants in this area, although this is increasingly at odds with the main line of Turkish policy.
Idlib’s main support comes from the United States and Israel, that is, from the very forces that Turkey opposes in its confrontation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Moreover, the role of the United States in the attempted coup d’état during the uprising of the Gulen sect (FETÖ) is well known to Turkish society, and under Trump, Turkey’s relations with the United States and NATO countries are in deep crisis. Thus, Erdogan’s loyalty to his support for Idlib militants is a geopolitical contradiction to himself and all of his policies.
It creates a growing tension with Russia and opens up the possibility for new provocations, such as the recent shelling of Russian positions by Idlib. In addition, it makes Turkey hostage to someone else’s game, creates additional obstacles for building relations with Damascus, and therefore for the active participation of Turkey in determining the political future of Syria. Finally, Turkey supports in Idlib exactly the forces that it is fighting against in northeastern Syria.
It is also important to note that the Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham (HTS) group is currently growing in Idlib, which not only does not focus on Turkey, but also conducts strategic consultations with the PKK and, in general, has anti-Turkish direction. Erdogan, however, continues to act as a guarantor of the militants of Idlib, which plays into the hands of the HTS, that is, its direct enemies, not to mention the complication of relations with Russia. The matter is further complicated by the fact that among the militants of Idlib there is a fairly large representation of the Uygur Islamists, which did not escape the attention of China, for whom the problem of Uygur separatism in Xinjiang (also supported by the United States and the Saudis) is extremely sensitive. Much depends on Russia not only in Syria, but also in bilateral relations between Moscow and Ankara; and for China, Turkey is part of the territory of the Belt and Road Initiative. Thus, Idlib is generally a significant problem for Turkey as a whole, and not only in the context of the Syrian conflict.
From a strategic point of view, support in the Eastern Mediterranean is now vital for Turkey. Relations with the United States, Israel and South Cyprus in this region are deteriorating dramatically, and Ankara needs allies, which can only be Syria and Egypt. And for this Idlib is also an obstacle.
Solution to the problem
Without resolving the problems of Idlib, Turkey itself will not be able to further advance in the realisation of its geopolitical goals, nor allow Damascus, Moscow and Tehran to do this. Thus, this policy plays into the hands of the United States and Israel, strengthening the position of the Kurds. The strengthening of the HTS and, in general, the American presence may well become in the near future a trigger for new provocations in the direction of Russia, which again threatens to disrupt the peace and strategic partnership between Russia and Turkey built after the downed plane and balancing on the brink of war between these countries. But this is precisely the purpose of the United States today, as the United States previously stood behind the downed Russian plane and the attempted coup and murder of Erdogan, acting through the hands of it proxy – FETÖ. Already today Idlib is a serious problem, and tomorrow it can be fatal for Turkey.
There is a solution to this problem. If the groups that are under Turkish control surrender their weapons in exchange for the amnesty guaranteed by Damascus and Moscow, resistance will be localised around those forces hostile to Turkey. But from now on, any provocations on their part will not concern Erdogan, and therefore, the whole situation will be unblocked. This is a fundamental step that Russia is waiting to continue to cooperate with Turkey. Its importance will affect the Turkish-Chinese relations in a very positive way. It is no secret that a significant part of the Turkish military, especially in the Navy, is inclined to cooperate with Damascus in the new conditions. And most importantly: having solved the problem of Idlib, Turkey can become a full-fledged and most importantly, weighty, member of a new coalition that can work together to solve the main task of the next stage: the Kurdish issue and the fate of the territories on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. Syria, Turkey, Russia and Iran will be on the same side of the front line, which will put the Kurds and the United States and Israel supporting them in a difficult situation. This will be, if not a checkmate to the Greater Middle East project and the ‘independent Kurdistan’ (as part of this project), then a significant, and most likely decisive, blow to it.
Having overcome Idlib, everyone will be able to concentrate on the northeast, and if a common position is developed, then legally and even militarily no one can resist the final solution of the Syrian tragedy: the restoration of the territorial integrity of Syria. Moreover, it is then that the post-war future project will emerge, since such a project requires the cooperation of all forces, with the exception of those who contributed to the bloody civil war in Syria: that is, globalist strategists and Israel, seeking to bleed the Arab world.
Therefore, on the way to peace and salvation of Syria, now the main obstacle is Idlib. This problem can be easily resolved if Erdogan, who is already in a weakened position under the onslaught of the liberal pro-Western opposition in Turkey itself, part of which are the same Kurds, becomes aware of the seriousness of the situation and makes a reasonable decision by inviting Turkey-oriented groups to lay down their arms under firm guarantees of amnesty from Damascus and Moscow.
Putin is waiting… What will Erdogan decide?
Erdogan’s support for Moscow is vital. And although his relationship with Putin is on the rise, without Idlib settlement they threaten to slip and may even gradually move into a different, less friendly, regime. This could well become fatal, and Erdogan’s geopolitical wisdom, which he repeatedly demonstrated in a critical situation, gives hope that he understands all this and will make the right choice: in the interests of Turkey, Syria and of all humanity.