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Russia and Turkey and the struggle for Idlib

Turkey since World War I, for the first time, faces such great difficulties. The West is the West itself, and Russia is Russia itself that does not care about agreements. West, Russia, Iran and many other countries located in Syria. Before we get into analyzing the problem in Idlib, let us take a brief look at Turkish-Russian relations.

   Until near yesterday, Russia and Turkey were located in two different strategic spaces, ideologically, politically and economically, one leading the Warsaw Socialist Alliance, and the other an active part of NATO. Although relations between the two sides began to improve with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it did not reach the positive level, except from the gateway to the Syrian file, due to the urgent necessities that imposed themselves on the two capitals. However, despite Russian-Turkish agreements and understandings in Syria (the path of Astana, the Euphrates shield, the olive branch, Sochi, east of the Euphrates), the Syrian file is part of a broader context of the strategic deliberative area between the two countries, governed by the position from the West.

    Over the past three centuries, the two countries have cooperated together to confront Western attacks, and this cooperation was evident in the face of the French expansion led by Napoleon at the end of the eighteenth century, and reappeared again in the 1830s, with the signing of the Unkyar-Eskilisci Agreement, under which Russia was committed to providing military  support of Turkey after the disobedience of Muhammad Ali Pasha in Egypt. But at that same age, conflicts occurred between Russia and Turkey. In 1768, a Russian fleet crossed the Strait of Gibraltar for the first time towards the Mediterranean and fought a major naval battle against the Ottoman fleet, due to the conflict over the Crimea. Four years later, the Russian fleet bombed coastal cities in Syria, in a scene similar to what is happening today. In short, it can be said that the Russian-Turkish differences in the Eurasia and Caucasus region were the cause of their conflict, while the Western threat was the reason for their cooperation.

   What is happening in Idlib now summarizes the nature of relations between the two countries for the past three centuries. The two countries share a state of their surplus power at a time when their relationship with the United States is entering a period of apathy, and the Russian and Turkish surplus of power have become clear in Syria: the first has become the main international military player, while the second has become the main regional player.

   The Syrian crisis constituted a kind of paradox in the history of the relationship between the two countries: a strategic difference regarding the attitude towards the revolution, the regime, and the political future of Syria, but these sharp differences, and due to the complexity of the Syrian scene due to the large number of regional actors, prompted the two sides to come closer to each other, And offering mutual concessions imposed by the course of affairs. The Russian-Turkish cooperation and conflict in Idlib can be seen in two dimensions:

First, a tactical linked to the effects of military arrangements in the Syrian geography, at this level there are understandings between the two countries, and there are differences over control of some areas in Idlib Governorate.

Second, it is a strategy far farther and more comprehensive than the Syrian geography, and its dimensions in Ukraine can be felt with Erdogan’s recent visit to it, the Turkish orientation to the Mediterranean and reaching the Libyan coast, and before that the Turkish-American convergence in the east of the Euphrates, and this level is the most important, since it determines the path of relations between Sides.

   Russia’s problem is that it did not look to Turkey through its strategic location in the region, as it looked at it from the Syrian gate only, and from here the Russians believed that allowing the Turks to remain in Idlib and obtain lands in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo, would expel them from the United States and Europe. But the Kremlin decision-makers did not realize that Turkey’s position in the heart of the world places it in contact with three continents, which makes its options so wide that it is difficult to reduce them to the East alone or the West alone. At this high point, we are witnessing a rise in tension between the two sides, but it is important to emphasize that the relationship between them will not reach the political and military zero point. Turkey bears the loss of some lands in Idlib in order to maintain its relationship with Russia, and the last also bears that some areas remain under the control of the opposition. The Syrian backed by Turkey, for the same reason. Therefore, Ankara will not be fooled by American promises and statements, and whatever James Jeffrey tries to tickle the feelings of the Turks by speaking the Turkish language, and Turkish soldiers described him as martyrs, he will not succeed in pushing Turkey to fall into the American trap, which is straining the relationship with Russia. This game is well known to decision makers in Ankara, but it was beneficial to Turkey, because it frightened the Russians who rushed through their embassy in Ankara to say that the American statements about Turkey are false.

   The strategy that President Erdogan draws is clear: Turkey is capable and ready to bear the price of its historic role in Syria, and the Russians must understand this. The Turkish escalation became clear on the ground, through the rise in the number of Turkish soldiers in Syria from one thousand soldiers to ten thousand soldiers, with about two thousand military vehicles. The military escalation was accompanied by red lines that Erdogan put in the face of the Syrian regime and behind it the Russians: controlling the movement of fighters of the Syrian regime’s fighters in the province, and any attack on the Turkish army by the Syrian regime, will be answered directly in the entire Syrian geography, beyond the area of ​​the Sochi Agreement in Idlib . The seriousness of the Turkish position can be seen in two phrases that President Erdogan mentioned for the first time, “that is, a struggle that we do not carry out today inside Syria, which we will have to do later in Turkey,” and the second, “if we leave the initiative to the Syrian regime and its supportive regimes, Turkey will not rest.” The Russians seem to have understood the seriousness of the Turkish position. After the phone conversation between Putin and Erdogan, the Kremlin announced that what is required is the implementation of the Sochi Agreement, meaning that Russia will not go beyond this agreement, and this position was also expressed by the announcement of the Russian Ministry of Defense in the evening Last Wednesday, control of the M5 Damascus-Aleppo highway allowed the establishment of the safe zone stipulated in the Russian-Turkish Memorandum. As a result, Fakhruddin Alton, head of the communications office in the Turkish presidency, said: “Freedom and liberation, the struggle of the Syrian people is an integral part, survival, and national security of Turkey, we cannot allow Syrian lands to be controlled by criminals and terrorists. It is our duty to fight these elements, whether in our borders or in our region. ”

   The strategy that President Erdogan draws is clear: Turkey is capable and ready to bear the price of its historic role in Syria, and the Russians must understand this. The Turkish escalation became clear on the ground, through the rise in the number of Turkish soldiers in Syria from one thousand soldiers to ten thousand soldiers, with about two thousand military vehicles. The military escalation was accompanied by red lines that Erdogan put in the face of the Syrian regime and behind it the Russians: controlling the movement of fighters of the Syrian regime’s fighters in the province, and any attack on the Turkish army by the Syrian regime, will be answered directly in the entire Syrian geography, beyond the area of ​​the Sochi Agreement in Idlib . The seriousness of the Turkish position can be seen in two phrases that President Erdogan mentioned for the first time, “that is, a struggle that we do not carry out today inside Syria, which we will have to do later in Turkey,” and the second, “if we leave the initiative to the Syrian regime and its supportive regimes, Turkey will not rest.” The Russians seem to have understood the seriousness of the Turkish position. After the phone conversation between Putin and Erdogan, the Kremlin announced that what is required is the implementation of the Sochi Agreement, meaning that Russia will not go beyond this agreement, and this position was also expressed by the announcement of the Russian Ministry of Defense in the evening Last Wednesday, control of the M5 Damascus-Aleppo highway allowed the establishment of the safe zone stipulated in the Russian-Turkish Memorandum. As a result, Fakhruddin Alton, head of the communications office in the Turkish presidency, said: “Freedom and liberation, the struggle of the Syrian people is an integral part, survival, and national security of Turkey, we cannot allow Syrian lands to be controlled by criminals and terrorists. It is our duty to fight these elements, whether in our borders or in our region.

Source: umayya.org

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About the author

Turan Kışlakçı

Turan Kışlakçı

Mr. Turan Kışlakçı is a Turkish journalist.

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