Simple Thread. Do you think Erdogan will enter Syria by force now that things are not going his way. And what will it be the implications considering also Russia Dimitriy Medvedev stated world war 3 will happen if Turkey does it.
Turkey's main thesis in finding a solution for the Syrian 'not civil already' war is the formation of a safe/no-fly zone in the country that has been cleared of all kinds of terror including terror organizations and foreign forces
The words "We ask God to rescue us from this suffering. I'm 53 years old and have seen enough. I don't want to reach 60 and see worse than this," belong to Michel Abou Yousef, from the documentary "Death of Aleppo," filmed by Al-Jazeera World in the fourth year of the Syria crisis. Muhammad Hubbo, a primary school student who speaks in the same documentary about the murders of his friends and the bombing of his house by regime forces, describes one of the daily problems he faces: "We have electricity for an hour and then nothing for eight hours to two days. Sometimes they fix it and sometimes they don't. We don't care much about the lack of electricity, but we do need water. If we don't have water we have to travel long distances to get it."Almost a year has passed since these people described their situation. We have no information on what happened to Yousef or Hubbo. The Russian airstrikes that have gone on since Sept. 30, 2015 have made the destruction in Syria even worse. And although Russia had said that its intention was to fight against DAESH, we see that fighting DAESH was never actually a particular for Russia.
When considering the Russian airstrikes, we see that they have never reached DAESH-controlled territory, that only certain DAESH targets are hit in order to support the Democratic Union Party' (PYD) armed People's Protection Units (YPG) and that otherwise, it is usually the moderate opposition forces, with the Free Syrian Army being foremost among them, who are bombed from the air. The reason for this is Russia's aim to keep Syria's Bashar Assad in power for its own strategic priorities. Within this, we see that while Russia is expending effort to cut Turkey off from Aleppo and it is also attempting to form a PYD-PKK corridor along Turkey's southern border.
With the developments in Syria, conversations have begun about the potential fall of Aleppo and the possible formation of a "PYD corridor" ranging from Qamishli to Afrin in northern Syria, flaming the fires of the debates about what Ankara's attitude will be. Undoubtedly, the first question on everyone's mind is whether or not Turkey will intervene militarily in Syria.
What kind of an attitude can Ankara have in an environment in which Geneva III has entered an impasse, where Russia and Iran have dug in, where DAESH has consolidated its hegemony, where the PKK in Turkey and PYD in Syria are attempting to become a state on Turkey's southern border and where a de facto divided Syria has appeared?
Above all else, it must be noticed that Ankara does not evaluate the goings on in Syria with just a foreign policy sensibility. The PYD seizing the Jarablous-Azaz line with Russian support and Aleppo's falling into the hands of the Assad regime, again with Russian support, are evaluated by Ankara as domestic policy issues directly.
Currently, Turkey provides shelter to 2.7 million Syrian refugees. Nearly 2 million Syrian refugees are expected in the case of Aleppo's fall. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that no matter what, "Turkey will open its doors to people fleeing from the tyranny of the Assad regime." Just the presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey makes Ankara's interest in Syria legitimate. Until today, Turkey has spent $9 billion directly from the state budget on Syrian refugees. The potential of the amount of refugees doubling would not only raise these costs, it could also bring with its new problems in the area of politics and culture.
Alongside this, with Turkey's southern border falling into the hands of a terrorist organization that the state has been fighting against for the past 35 years within its own borders would bring with it new security problems for Turkey. The Syrian civil war and the PYD gaining the opportunity to form cantons in northern Syria have already birthed the problem of Turkey facing PKK-centered terror attacks within its borders. The PKK abandoned the reconciliation process by latching on to the "Rojava revolution" discourse and began fighting against the Turkish state again. In this new period, the PKK aimed to make cantons out of cities in Turkey just as in northern Syria, but has been unable to reach this goal. The state began a comprehensive military operation against the PKK and has driven it into a corner. In the near future, the likelihood of the state's attitude toward the PKK hardening and being reflected on the operations it leads is very high.
On the other hand, some actors in Turkey - socio-religiously Alevi and politically of a radical leftist ideology -have regarded the Syrian crisis as a new occasion for political uprising and to form a new organized structure. The existence of the Syrian civil war and Turkey's attitude toward the Assad regime has stiffened these radical leftist organization's attitudes toward the Turkish state and administration. Reaching its zenith during the Gezi Park protests, this period has caused a narrowing of the democratic political arena in Turkey, in contrast to dogmatic evaluations.
A potential Turkish military intervention in Syria is but one of the possibilities on the table. However, Ankara is still resisting this option. Ankara's main proposal for the region to establish a "safe zone" for refugees clear of terrorism as well as a no-fly zone. Erdoğan also makes the promise that Turkish construction companies would develop the no-terrorism safe zone. At this point, with the exception of the safe zone and no-fly zone, there are no realist and peaceful proposals for the region.
Those who regard the Syrian civil war as a regional one are deluded. This crisis is global, and it is gradually deepening. The U.S., by shutting its eyes to Russia's irredentism and by not taking any initiative to really save the day, is doing nothing but letting fanaticism rise and allowing the reality of horrible humanitarian crises and divided states to continue.
Can Erdogan bully Turkey's armed forces into invading Syria?
On Feb. 3, the Syrian army and its allies dealt a strategic blow to Ankara when they cut the land route between Aleppo and the Bab al-Salameh border crossing with Turkey in the Turkish province of Kilis. Keeping this route to Aleppo open had been of vital importance for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who, keen to topple the Damascus regime since 2011, have used every means at their disposal short of sending troops to Syria.
The route was crucial to Turkey for two related reasons. First, the fighters, weapons, munitions and various supplies that flowed via this route to Aleppo allowed the rebels to sustain their military presence in Syria’s most populous city and therefore preserve their political ambitions in the conflict. With the route now cut, the Syrian regime’s expected siege of Aleppo means the opposition forces' likely defeat.
Second, the ground the opposition holds on the battlefield and in any political solution process — thanks to its presence in Aleppo — would have given Ankara a foothold in Syria despite its aspiration of toppling the regime. Thus, with the fall of Aleppo, Ankara would find itself largely sidelined from the Syrian process.
So, the question now is: What will Erdogan do to preserve his foothold in Syria after his strategic loss in Aleppo? Will he concede defeat or will he use his means of last resort — in other words, will he send Turkish troops to Syria?
A day after the Aleppo route was cut, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed Turkey was “actively preparing for a military invasion” of Syria, adding, “We’re detecting more and more signs of Turkish armed forces being engaged in covert preparations for direct military actions in Syria.”
Speaking at a press conference during a visit to Senegal the following day, Erdogan responded, “This attitude on the part of Russia is something I greet with a smile. Russia should first answer for the people it kills on Syrian territory.”
Bashing Russia on moral grounds, Erdogan’s statement neither denied nor confirmed the alleged preparations for an invasion. No confirmation was expected anyway, but a categorical denial had been possible. Instead, Erdogan expressed — in indirect but clear enough language, his desire to send Turkish forces to Syria, stressing that the "mistake" of 2003 should not be repeated. He was referring to the Turkish Parliament’s rejection of a government motion that would have authorized the US military’s use of Turkish territory to invade Iraq and also the deployment of Turkish troops in Northern Iraq.
“We don’t want to repeat the Iraq mistake in Syria,” Erdogan said. “The situation in Iraq would have been different [today] if … Turkey had been present in Iraq. Turkey would have been at the table if the motion had been approved. Being forward-looking is very important.” Referring to the Russian intervention in Syria and the regime’s ensuing gains, he added, “Things in Syria can go on like this only for a certain period of time, but not after a certain point. Turkey has to protect its sensitivities.”
By implying that a military intervention is the only way left for him to have a say on Syria’s future, Erdogan is in fact conceding that his Syria policy has failed. The true meaning of his words is that Turkey will have no place at the Syrian negotiating table unless it sends ground forces to Syria in a war of unpredictable length and consequences.
Since the Turkish military cannot go to Syria to take Aleppo from the regime and hand it over to the jihadis, legitimate grounds for a unilateral intervention could be based on the pretext of battling the Islamic State (IS). In that case, the Syrian territory up for invasion is the IS-controlled border area stretching over some 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Jarablus west to the Harjalah-Marea line. One could safely assume that some adjacent territories deeper into Syria would also be occupied to secure control of the area.
It’s obvious, however, that the real target of such an intervention would be not IS, but the Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and therefore as a threat. Judging by its attitude so far, the United States will almost certainly oppose any Turkish action that turns into an operation targeting the YPG, which it sees as its most reliable local ally against IS.
Erdogan is now calling on the United States to choose between Turkey and the PYD/YPG, which he brands as terrorists. These calls, however, make no sense in the Syrian context because the Turkish military, as a foreign force, cannot serve as an alternative to the PYD, the primary local force in the battle against IS. Going along with Turkey, on the other hand, would amount to tacit approval of a lasting invasion that also affects the Kurdish regions. Hence, a Turkish invasion is bound to drive a wedge between Ankara and its Western allies, who would object to such a move.
Furthermore, the direct and indirect responses the Turkish troops would face from the Kurds, the Damascus regime, Russia, Iran and even IS are very likely to go far beyond “objections” and be of a military nature. Ankara might eventually find itself fighting more than one enemy at the same time. Turkey’s NATO membership cannot serve as deterrence in this war because Syria is not part of the Western alliance’s defense zone. NATO’s activation of Articles 4 and 5 on collective defense is out of the question for any Turkish troops that come under attack in Syria.
So, all this boils down to whether the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will put up enough resistance to Erdogan’s intention to drag Turkey into the war. The ultimate answer remains to be seen, but all indications so far suggest the army has been reluctant to participate in a military intervention since the Syrian conflict began. The latest reports indicate the military leadership is standing its ground. A front-page story Feb. 10 in Hurriyet conveyed the military’s hesitance about an intervention, referring to a “senior official” who was discernible as a military officer.
“The General Staff has two important decisions concerning a military deployment by the international community in Syria. First, the United States is aware it cannot pass a [UN] resolution because of Russia’s attitude, and therefore it is not making any preparations to that effect. Second, the TSK is not going to set foot in Syria without a UN Security Council resolution,” the report read.
Over the years, Erdogan has proved to be a leader who occasionally steps back but tends to never compromise, always playing a zero-sum game. In response to any loss of power, he reflexively resorts to using power again. His sense of grandeur and the cult of personality he has built around himself have only reinforced this political persona.
Having cornered himself in Syria, Erdogan again wants to use force to break free. And the only force he has at his disposal is the TSK, which seems reluctant to be exploited for that purpose. In short, the resistance the TSK puts up to Erdogan is the only mainstay that Turkey presently has to avoid an adventure doomed to drag it into a catastrophe.
Former FM: Turkey may lose territory if it intervenes militarily in Syria
February 12, 2016, Friday/ 00:02:10/ MESUT ÇEVİKALP | ANKARA
Former Foreign Minister Yaşar Yakış has warned that Turkey may risk losing a portion of its own territory should it decide to intervene militarily in Syria amid an intensified military campaign by regime forces backed by Russia.
In an interview with Today's Zaman, Yakış stated that Turkey may look to occupy the region between Azaz and Jarablus in Syria, which is known as the “Mare Line,” to protect rebels from the opposition but warned that Turkey may very well lose the Hatay province from its territory if things do not pan out the way Ankara expects.
“The world would not accept such interference [by Turkey's military in Syria]. It would not allow the border to be redrawn unilaterally. What's more, if the Turkish military faced defeat, Syria might reintroduce the claim that Hatay belongs to Syria,” he explained.
Syria has never approved of the annexation of Hatay by Turkey in 1939, a year after the province declared its independence from Syria and later decided to join Turkey. But Damascus has not pushed the issue forward with any force so as not to harm ties.
Yakış noted that the Turkish military will have to face superior Russian forces if it intervenes in Syria, and he warned that Russia has been waiting for a reason to unleash severe punishment on Turkey since the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber last year.
“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] may not invoke Article 5,” he also argued, citing the fact that the aggression would have been instigated by Turkey. Article 5 of the NATO Charter states that an attack on one ally shall be considered to be an attack on all allies. The article was invoked by the US for the first time in October 2001, when NATO determined that the terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty.
“Just as with the intervention in Cyprus, the US may leave Turkey alone,” he noted, adding that Russia and some Western states may want to drag Turkey into the conflict in Syria.
Yakış also pointed out that the Arab world would very much oppose a Turkish incursion into an Arab country, and he gave the example of Bashiqa in Iraq to support his view.
The Arab League condemned Turkey's deployment of troops to the Bashiqa military camp near the city of Mosul in northern Iraq after Ankara decided not to withdraw all its troops from Iraqi territory.
Explaining that the US was opposed to Turkey's interference even before Russia joined the theater of war in Syria, Yakış said that Washington rejected Turkish proposals to establish a safe zone or no-fly zone in the north of Syria close to the Turkish border “because it would be impossible to establish such a zone and ensure its security during a civil war.”
According to Yakış, Turkish options are more limited now that Russia is involved in the conflict with the approval of Damascus. “They [Russia] would be staunchly opposed to Turkish interference,” he remarked.
“It is guaranteed that Russia will be the main actor in shaping the future of Syria,” he stated.
Yakış said he believes the military is much more reserved about the prospect of entering Syria.
The veteran diplomat also questioned the capability of the Saudi Arabian army, saying that it lacks the capability and experience to wage an effective war in Syria.
Will he, won't he? Turks ponder whether Erdogan will invade Syria
Nowadays, when two or more Turks come together, the conversation inevitably moves into questioning the motives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his plans for Turkey's role in the ever-worsening situation in Syria. The question is: Is he going to push the army into Syrian territory?
AUTHOR Cengiz Çandar POSTED February 9, 2016
Turkey's link with the Syrian rebels has been severely weakened by the seeming collapse of the Geneva III talks and the advances of Syrian regime forces from the north to Aleppo with the support of Russian air power. Dramatic developments are taking place in the Azaz-Jarablus corridor, which served as a lifeline for Syrian rebels backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and also, more or less, for those endorsed by the United States. The fighting there is not only depriving Turkey of its most important leverage in Syria, but also triggering a massive exodus of Syrians to Turkey. Turkey, already strained due to some 2.5 million refugees, is now faced with tens of thousands of potential newcomers.
Moreover, as this strategically vital corridor for Turkey is depopulated because of the intense Russian airstrikes, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is moving into the region. As a result of this, Kurds can connect the Kurdish cantons stretching from Syria’s eastern frontier with Iraq and its western frontier with Turkey. Ankara has repeatedly declared any YPG move to the west of the Euphrates River as a red line violation, and Erdogan has said that Turkey is determined to act against such violations.
Yet that “red line” has been breached and perhaps effectively erased, as was the case with previous Turkish lines drawn to obstruct Kurdish ambitions in the region.
There are sufficient reasons for Erdogan to send Turkish ground troops into Syria, particularly to Aleppo, through which Ankara can hold some ground around the Azaz-Jarablus corridor. Also, this could be some kind of test, both of Russia’s commitment to the Syrian regime and NATO’s determination to support its ally.
Last weekend, Erdogan lashed out at several parties, including the United States and Russia, as he returned to Turkey from a controversial trip to a number of Latin American countries. It has become routine for him to make his most important policy speeches and threats on board the presidential jet, addressing the journalists he handpicks to accompany him.
In an interesting move, he signaled his intent to take the initiative in Syria. Recalling the pre-Iraq invasion days, Erdogan said he does not want to “commit the mistake in Syria that had been committed in Iraq.” He was apparently referring to the decree allowing Turkish troops into Iraqi Kurdistan along with the Americans — a decree that had not been approved by the Turkish parliament.
If Turkey had not missed its opportunity to send troops into Iraqi territory then, in 2003, the situation in Iraq today would be much different, according to Erdogan.
“Now, in Syria, the way things are developing, they cannot go beyond a certain limit. We have to act according to our [security] sensitivities. Our airspace is also NATO’s airspace. They [NATO] should also take the necessary steps. All this is a test for everybody.”
However, with any kind of direct Turkish involvement in Syria, there is a danger of confrontation with Russia. The danger is even more likely since the relations between the countries deteriorated following Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet Nov. 24.
Also on his return trip, Erdogan responded to Russia’s allegations that Turkish armed forces were preparing for an intervention in Syria: “Russia should be asked: What is your preoccupation with Syria? At the moment, you are like an invader. You are the one cooperating with the murderer of 400,000 people. … Turkey's [566-mile-long frontier with Syria] is under threat. Definitely, Turkey will take precautions. They are only precautions, while Russia is on the offensive. Russia has no right to make allegations on these issues. Moreover, we have compatriots in Syria. Oh Russia, do you have a common frontier here with Syria? Do you have compatriots?”
Washington was not immune to his wrath either. It was apparent that he was angered by America's gestures to its Kurdish ally in Syria, the YPG, which he considers a terrorist organization along with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the US-supported, Kurdish nationalist Democratic Union Party (PYD).
“The PYD, YPG are terrorist organizations. What the PKK is, the PYD is exactly the same. We will take this position to all the international bodies," Erdogan said.
He criticized Brett McGurk, US President Barack Obama's special representative to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Islamic State), for visiting Kobani, Syria, after Turkey refused to go along with having the PYD participate in the Geneva III talks.
“The PYD was not able to come to Geneva, so [McGurk] goes to Kobani and receives a commemorative plaque from a so-called general there," Erdogan said. The Turkish president asked the United States, "How can we trust you? Who is your partner — the terrorists in Kobani or me?”
The brief and very clear response came Feb. 8 from US State Department spokesman John Kirby. Washington understands Turkey’s concerns about the YPG, Kirby told reporters in his daily briefing, but the YPG is one of the most successful forces in the fight against IS.
“We do not see them as a terrorist organization and will continue supporting them,” he said.
This was one of the most powerful rebuffs American authorities have ever unleashed at a Turkish president.
If Russian air power and the YPG’s presence on the ground don't deter Erdogan from sending Turkish troops into Syria, perhaps the remarks of the US State Department spokesman will.
Or perhaps those words will drive Erdogan to act more decisively about a possible military intervention in Syria in order to break the military link between the United States and the Syrian Kurds, as this has become the most fearsome development in the eyes of Turkey’s military establishment, which is phobic about Kurds.
So speculation about a possible Turkish military intervention in Syria is likely to grow louder and more intense among Turkey's citizens in the days to come.
Russia’s PM Medvedev Warns of New War if US, Arab Troops Invade Syria
As Turkey and Saudi Arabia edge closer to sending ground forces into Syria at the behest of the United States, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that an escalation of the conflict could lead to world war.
During an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, Medvedev warned of dire consequences if the United States and its allies abandon Syrian peace talks in favor of deploying ground forces.
"The Americans must consider — both the US president and our Arab partners — whether or not they want a permanent war."
All sides should instead focus on implementing peace talks.
"We must make everyone sit down to the negotiating table, and we can do it by using, among other things, the harsh measures that are being implemented by Russia, the Americans, and even, with all reservations, the Turks, rather than start yet another war in the world."
PM Davutoğlu warns YPG, says Turkey will ‘do what’s necessary’
If Turkey’s security is threatened by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) military wing, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), then Ankara will “do what is necessary,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has stated.
“As I have said, the link between the YPG and the [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK is obvious. If the YPG threatens our security then we will do what is necessary,” told Davutoğlu reporters flying from The Hague to Ankara on Feb. 10.
Turkey regards the PYD and the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed PKK, with which it has been in armed clashes since the 1980s.
Davutoğlu said two groups in particular are exploiting the chaotic situation in Iraq and Syria: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the PKK. Referring to the U.S.’s statement that the PYD is an “important partner” in the fight against ISIL, Davutoğlu said one should not justify a terrorist organization just because it is fighting against another one, citing the example of the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra.
“Just like [al-Nusra], the PKK cannot earn legitimacy [this way],” he added.
While tension between two NATO allies – Turkey and the U.S. – remain high due to differences over the PYD, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner stressed that the U.S.’s commitment to its alliance with Turkey should not be questioned.
“Turkey is a NATO ally, a strong partner within the anti-Daesh coalition and we appreciate their support,” Toner said on Feb. 10, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.
“We coordinate closely with them across a variety of fronts and all lines of effort ... we’re going to continue those discussions [on the PYD] moving forward, but I think no one should question our commitment to our alliance with Turkey,” he added.
On the same day, the U.S. envoy to the coalition against ISIL, Brett McGurk, said Turkey had made good strides in securing its border with Syria.
McGurk said Turkish officials “are doing quite a lot” to ensure that ISIL fighters cannot exploit the border, including building berms, increasing border patrols, improving intelligence sharing, and carrying out cross-border artillery strikes.
“This is having an impact. It is much harder for ISIL fighters to get into Syria now than it was even six months ago and once they’re in it is much harder for them to get out,” McGurk said in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Feb. 10.
“We know from their [ISIL] own publications that they’re now telling their fighters not to come to Syria, but to go elsewhere, to Libya for example,” he told lawmakers.
“That’s our objective – to stop them getting in. And if they do get in they’ll never get out because they will die in Iraq and Syria,” McGurk added.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia plan war against Russia and Syria
Turkey continues building up its military presence on the border with the Syrian Arab Republic, as evidenced by photographs from reconnaissance drones.
A source at the Syrian Armed Forces said that more than 20 Turkish tanks, more than 20 self-propelled guns and 30 field artillery guns of various calibers appeared near the border on Syria during February 7-10.
Turkey secretly deploys military hardware on the territory of Turkish military facilities. Turkey has also been taking efforts to increase the presence of its troops on the border with Syria. Up to 5,000 Turkish military personnel have been deployed in the region in the first two weeks of February. To quarter them along the border, Turkey creates army camps masked as refugee townships.
For example, in the area of Bab-es-Salam, up to 2,000 military men were quartered in a tent township immediately behind the border line. A field hospital was also erected in the location. According to experts, Turkey will be ready for an attack on Syria by the end of February.
Saudi Arabia awaits US permission to start ground operation
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Noteworthy, Advisor to the Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia, Ahmad Asiri, stated that Saudi Arabia would launch a ground operation in Syria as soon as the US-led international coalition makes such a decision.
Earlier, the head of the Saudi Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al-Jubeir, announced a possibility to send Saudi special forces to Syria as part of the US-led coalition to fight the Islamic State terrorist group.
According to Politonline, even though November 24 became the day, when the relations between Russia and Turkey were ruined, they could hardly be referred to as friendly relations during five years of the Syrian conflict.
Russia became a potential enemy when the country joined the Syrian conflict on the side of Damascus and President Assad. Having blocked the possibility to deliver any cargo through its airspace and waters in the beginning of the civil war in Syria, Turkey, in fact, forced Russia to start an operation called the "Syrian Express" in 2012.
It was Russia that supported Damascus in most critical moments of the civil war. The Syrian government has thus been able to retain control of important cities and push militants out from the territories near the Syrian capital.
What was Turkey's role in the conflict? Turkish citizens have been taking part in the Syrian conflict since the very beginning of the Syrian civil war. Turkey itself has been showing significant influence on the conflict in the Arab Republic. Therefore, one may conclude that Turkey has committed acts of foreign intervention into internal affairs of Syria. In Turkey, Islamist terrorists could receive medical aid and Internet access (via private Turkish providers) to upload their propagandist videos on extremist sites.
One may also recollect Turkey's participation in the attack on the town of Kessab (province of Latakia) in the spring of 2014. Several thousands of Jabhat en-Nusra militants and terrorists from other groups had been sent to the region via the Turkish territory with the support of Turkish secret services and the military.
Turkey also tries to weaken the forces of the Kurdish militia.
Of course, after November 24, 2015, the relations between Russia and Turkey started worsening very quickly. Ankara has never apologized for shooting down the Russian fighter jet, and no one was punished for the criminal act, in which two Russian military men were killed. Such a serious crisis has not occurred in the Russian-Turkish relations since, perhaps, 1920.
The rhetoric of the Turkish authorities has changed dramatically too. A few days ago, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking at a meeting of the parliamentary faction of the ruling Justice and Development Party, said all of a sudden that Ankara wanted to defend the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Russia suspects Turkey plotting invasion of Syria
"We will return our historic debt. At one time, our brothers from Aleppo defended our cities of Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, now we will defend the heroic Aleppo. All of Turkey stands behind its defenders," Davutoglu said.
Davutoglu made the statement after the Syrian military cut off terrorists' major supplies channels in northern Aleppo province from from Turkey.
Russian officials also expressed concerns about Turkey's possible attack on Syria. "We have serious reasons to believe that Turkey has been taking efforts to prepare a military invasion of the territory of a sovereign state - the Syrian Arab Republic. We have seen many signs of the hidden preparations of the Turkish armed forces for military actions in Syria," an official spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov said.
Russian Foreign Minister also spoke about the possibility of a large-scale war in the region with the participation of neighboring countries.
"If the Geneva talks do not bring any results, they will opt for a military solution. The leaders of several countries have already made such point blank statements. As I can understand, they share almost personal hatred to Bashar Assad. I do not think that the coalition led by the United States, in which Turkey is included, will let such reckless plans materialize," said Sergey Lavrov.
I'd say no chance they'd risk it. But Erdogan is an unstable fellow. Whoever thought downing the first Russian jet in 50 years is a game might not think twice about doubling his gamble. But if not over-purged already, his own military should be able to hold him back.
Davutoğlu signals Turkish action after fall of Aleppo corridor
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has implied that Turkey will take action after the capture of the town of Azez in Syria, a strategic corridor between Aleppo and Turkey for rebel groups, by Syrian regime troops backed by Russian airstrikes.
Speaking to reporters en route to Turkey from the Netherlands, Davutoğlu said that he had told German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the need to stop Russia in Syria in order to prevent further influxes of refugees to Turkey and Europe from the region, the Hürriyet daily reported on Friday. When asked whether Turkey will take action to reopen the corridor to Aleppo, Davutoğlu said, “Wait for the next few days and you will have the answer,” daily Hürriyet reported on Friday.
An offensive by Syrian forces, Hezbollah and Shiite militias directed by Iran and backed by Russian bombing raids has reversed opposition gains on the ground and encircled rebels inside Aleppo. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that the number of refugees fleeing to Turkish border might reach 600,000 if airs strikes continue.
Davutoğlu also criticized the US for not listing the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a terrorist organization. He argued that the People's Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the PYD, supplies arms to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). “When US Vice President Joe Biden came [to Turkey in late January], we showed him everything on a map for five hours. We shared everything about which routes are used by the YPG to carry weapons to Turkey. We expect [the US to show] sensitivity [about the issue]. We cannot see the YPG as legitimate just because it is fighting against the [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] ISIL,” Hürriyet quoted Davutoğlu as saying.
The YPG has been a reliable ally in the fight against the ISIL on the ground and has benefited from the US arms supply on several occasions. Both the US and the EU share Turkey's view of the PKK and see it as a terrorist organization. However, under US law, the PYD is not considered a terrorist group and US officials repeatedly said that their cooperation with the PYD against ISIL will continue.
Assad says sees risk of Turkey, Saudi Arabia invading Syria
Syrian President Bashar Assad admits Turkey and Saudi Arabia could soon send troops into the country, but remains confident that he can retake the war-torn nation. The statement comes as Riyadh has reiterated its goal of ousting the leader from office.
In an exclusive interview with AFP, Assad said he saw a risk that Turkey and Saudi Arabia – key backers of the opposition – could send their soldiers into the fray in Syria.
Speaking at a security conference in Munich, FM Adel al-Jubeir called Assad the “single most effective magnet for extremists and terrorists in the region,” asserting that he must be removed from office if stability is to be restored. “That’s our objective and we will achieve it,” he said. “Unless and until there is a change in Syria, Daesh will not be defeated in Syria, period.”
However, Assad is equally confident that he can retake control of the whole of Syria, large swathes of which are currently under the control of opposition forces and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“Regardless of whether we can do that or not, this is a goal we are seeking to achieve without any hesitation,” he said, adding that it “makes no sense for us to say that we will give up any part.”
Assad said he believes it is possible to “put an end to this problem in less than a year” if opposition supply routes from Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq are blocked.
“The main battle is about cutting the road between Aleppo and Turkey, for Turkey is the main conduit of supplies for the terrorists,” Assad said.
He noted that the Russian-backed government offensive in Aleppo is aimed at cutting off that supply route. The Syrian government has been receiving air support from Moscow, its key ally.
Assad went on to say that he supports peace talks, but stressed that the Syrian government will not “stop fighting terrorism.”
He blamed Europe for “giving cover to terrorists in the beginning” and for the sanctions imposed on Syria, stating that the EU has been the “direct cause for the emigration” of Syrians.
The interview, conducted at Assad’s Damascus office on Thursday and published on Friday, is the first the leader has given since the collapse of a new round of peace talks in Geneva earlier this month. Talks have officially been put on hold until February 25. On Friday, 17 nations taking part in talks in Munich agreed to an ambitious plan that would end hostilities in Syria with verifiable results within a week, revive the Geneva-3 peace talks, and immediately begin delivering humanitarian aid to civilians.
Syria has been the scene of a gruesome civil war since 2011, which has led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people and displaced more than 12 million, according to UN figures
Syria has become the best-marketed commodity in Turkey, where all foreign policy issues are packaged for domestic consumption. Ankara appears, however, to have lost all perception of reality regarding anything to do with Syria, falling victim to Alice in Wonderland syndrome. The government has embarked on a surreal journey in trying to persuade the public that Turkey is winning, not losing, in Syria.
Summary⎙ Print The siege of Aleppo and resulting refugee flow offer an opportunity for Turkey's return as a player in Syria, but realities on the ground won't make it easy.
Author Metin GurcanPosted February 12, 2016
The first week in February, a coalition of the Syrian army, paramilitary forces from Iran, Hezbollah and Russian special forces, all supported by the Russian air force, advanced from east of Aleppo to its north. Hearts skipped a beat in Ankara as Bashar al-Assad’s army laid siege to Aleppo, which had mostly been in rebel hands since 2012, and cut supply routes linking the opposition forces to Turkey. The risk of Kurdish forces moving west of the Euphrates River and reaching Afrin further heightened jitters in Ankara.
Last year, nothing went as Turkey would have liked in Syria. After its downing of a Russian warplane Nov. 24, Ankara lost all standing as an independent and effective playmaker on the ground and in the air in Syria. The siege of Aleppo, however, has set in motion another refugee flow, providing Ankara an opportunity to strengthen its hand in Syria by intervening on the ground.
“This is the best time to enter Syria” has become the mantra of pro-government media in Turkey. Their articles justify the call for military intervention by insisting that Turkey cannot allow a Kurdish buffer state on its border controlled by the United States and Russia. They further argue that Turkey must eliminate the threat posed by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), that it cannot afford to remain out of the game in Syria and that a refugee enclave must be created inside Syria (without allowing refugees to cross into Turkey).
Some pro-intervention commentators cite these justifications to encourage Ankara to quickly intervene militarily in the Jarablus pocket, north of Azaz-Munbij line. Well-placed military sources in Ankara who requested anonymity told Al-Monitor that many key people in Ankara view the developments in Aleppo as the last chance for Turkey to make a comeback as an effective actor in Syria. They fear that if Ankara fails to use events in Aleppo to advance national interests, Turkey will be permanently sidelined in the Syrian game.
In May 2015, I had written in Al-Monitor that the political decision-makers in Ankara were keen for military intervention, but the realistic and cool-headed approach of the Turkish military was serving as a brake on that course of action. The risks of a conventional military intervention, given the complex conflict dynamics in Syria, and the necessity of having international legitimacy for such an intervention drove the military's outlook. Do the latest developments in Syria increase the chances of a Turkish military intervention?
Ankara has to address five key issues before intervening. The first involves the simple, technical matter of air support for the operation. Without air support, it is impossible to launch a ground operation that could last months. Close air support is essential to protect ground forces with firepower, reconnaissance and surveillance, as well as evacuation and troop movements via helicopter. Improvised explosive devices and the risk of suicide bombers make roads unusable for frequent movements.
The issue then becomes whether Russia, which has declared a de facto no-fly zone over northern Syria, will allow Turkish planes and helicopters to enter Syrian airspace. The violation of Turkish airspace north of the Azaz-Munbij line Jan. 29 by a Russian Su-34 interceptor was an important signal of Russia’s determination in this region. If Russia won’t allow Turkish planes to enter Syrian airspace, might the United States be asked to provide air support for the Turkish ground operation? That would require Ankara to first persuade Washington and then the US administration to persuade the Russians.
Some ill-informed, and actually woeful, comments have been made suggesting that Turkey can provide the necessary fire support with its 25-mile-range artillery and multiple rocket launchers, eliminating the need for the air force. This option doesn’t sound realistic when one considers the possible duration and scope of the operation.
The second dimension concerns Turkey’s foreign policy choices. Although Ankara might get the support of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain for a ground operation, confronting the United States and Russia in Syria would make life difficult. It is unlikely that Turkey could launch an operation without the support of at least one of the two in the field.
The third issue involves a truly bitter pill that Ankara might soon have to swallow. To avoid confronting two enemies in a ground operation requires the field support of either the PYD or the Assad regime. The reality is that Ankara cannot declare the Islamic State, Assad’s army and the PYD enemies at the same time.
The fourth issue is the continuing clashes with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey’s southeast, the country's soft underbelly. It appears that Ankara-PYD relations are increasingly charting the course for that conflict. Hundreds of thousands of Kurds in Turkey are likely monitoring Ankara’s actions toward the PYD. It may well be reasonable to view northern Syria as the primary front of the Ankara-PKK clashes and the battles in the southeast as the secondary front. In such a situation, a Turkish operation in Syria could expand clashes in Turkey, including to the west.
The fifth issue to address is the nature of any military operation. The US experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated that no matter the cause of an intervention or its legitimacy, the paramount question that must be answered first is: How do we exit? The risks are high sending soldiers into an operational terrain like Syria's, where conditions change by the minute. Neglecting an exit strategy usually comes with heavy economic and political costs. Entry is not a major problem for the Turkish army, provided the political decision-makers in Ankara put some thought into how to stay there after entering and how to get out.
Nope. Simply because Turkey doesn't have neither Syrian government or National security approval! Second, what is the Turkish purpose for entering Syria. 1) to fight ISIS, 2) the Kurds or 3) Assad regime?
1) Turkey will not fight ISIS as ISIS is the product and nurtured by Turkey. They are as allies.
2) Turkey can't declare war on the Kurds for a simple reason. Washington said that the Kurds are not terrorists. Point a la ligne.
3) To fight Assad, and under what pretext? According to the UN, Assad is the president of Syria, his removal is no more considered priority for the US or the EU and he is part of the solution. So under what pretext would Erdogan fight in Syria?
Plus, fighting Assad = fighting Russia. Erdogan is dumb but I don't think he is as bad as opening war with Russia.
Turkish media say Saudi Arabia, Turkey may strike in Syria
ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey's foreign minister says his country and Saudi Arabia may launch ground operations against the Islamic State group in Syria, Turkish media reported Saturday.
After taking part at a security conference in Munich, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saudi Arabia was "ready to send both jets and troops" to Turkey's Incirlik air base, Saturday's edition of the Yeni Safak pro-government newspaper quoted him as saying.
"Turkey and Saudi Arabia may launch an operation (against IS) from the land," he added, the paper said.
Cavusoglu did not specify the number of troops or jets, or the timing of a possible Saudi deployment, but said exploratory visits have been made.
The base is used by the U.S.-led coalition in the campaign against the Islamic State group.
Turkish television channels NTV and CNN Turk also carried remarks by the minister suggesting that Turkey and Saudi Arabia see eye to eye on the need for ground operations in Syria.
"At every coalition meeting we have always emphasized the need for an extensive result-oriented strategy in the fight against the (Islamic State) terrorist group," the newspaper quoted Cavusoglu as saying.
"If we have such a strategy, then Turkey and Saudi Arabia may launch an operation from the land," he added.
Turkey hosts more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees and tens of thousands more have massed at its borders after a fierce government offensive around Aleppo.
Russia would love to bomb Turkish troops in Syria pretending they didn't know they were Turkish, remember they still have a score to settle after their plane was shot down. so game theory says no they won't enter Syria because they know that after being bombed NATO will not come to help, so they will have to fight Russia alone or withdraw after suffering Russian bombing.