Visit our new website: worldnews.easybranches.com

Turkey alliance surviving Idlib test — for now

  • Wed, 29 Aug 2018 05:14
Author: 
Tue, 2018-08-28 22:30

ISTANBUL: Russia and Turkey are in intense negotiations to ensure the rebel-held province of Idlib does not become a breaking point in their alliance on Syria, but the long term fate of the area still risks provoking a rupture, analysts say.

President Vladimir Putin and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have spearheaded an unlikely but so far sustained partnership to bring peace to Syria since late 2016, despite being in theory on opposite sides of the civil war.

The cooperation now faces its biggest test over Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, bordering Turkey, which Syrian President Bashar Assad wants to recapture to complete a string of military successes.

Idlib has over the last years become an increasingly densely populated region where problems in resolving the seven-year Syrian civil war were effectively dumped to be resolved at a later date.

That moment is now drawing closer with expectations of a government offensive and fears over the combustible mix in the province of displaced people from other Syrian regions, moderate rebels and Islamist radicals.

Erdogan has been a champion of the anti-Assad rebels and bitterly denounced Putin in the crisis that followed the shooting down of a Russian war plane by Turkey in November 2015.

But the burgeoning alliance with Moscow, which also includes cooperation in trade, energy and defense, is now of critical importance to Ankara at a time when a crisis in relations with the US has caused the Turkish lira to bleed value.

“There is still a hope in Moscow to find an agreement with Ankara that could allow the Syrian regime to take control of Idlib without a new rupture with Turkey,” Kerim Has, a Moscow-based analyst on Turkish-Russian relations, told AFP.

He said Moscow was carefully watching Turkey-US ties and could launch a full operation at the “moment when the Turkish leadership is in most desperate need of the Kremlin’s encouragement during a deepening Turkey-US crisis.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday led a delegation including Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and spy chief Hakan Fidan to Moscow to discuss the Idlib situation and also Moscow’s planned delivery of S-400 missile systems to Turkey.

Cavusoglu warned that a “military solution” in Idlib, which he said is now home to 3.5 million people, would be a “catastrophe” and provoke a new refugee influx into Turkey where three million Syrians already live.

But he also said “radical groups and terrorists” in Idlib should be “neutralized,” in comments seen as indicating Ankara could support a limited intervention.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a differentiation should be made between moderate rebels and extremists, like the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham group (HTS) who control much of Idlib.

In a sign of the importance of the visit, Cavusoglu was received by President Putin, who praised the “deep cooperation” over Syria. Cavusoglu told Putin “your dear friend Mr.Erdogan” expected him in Istanbul soon for dinner at a fish restaurant.

“Russia and Turkey are trying to find agreement with suitable terms for both sides,” Timur Akhmetov, Ankara-based researcher at the Russian International Affairs Council, told AFP.

He predicted Russia and the Syrian regime would launch a “limited offensive” against groups linked to former Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front — especially on factions that have irritated Moscow by launching swarm attacks with drones against its Hmeimim base, the heart of Russian operations in Syria.

“Russia is trying to encourage Turkey to have the opposition contribute to the offensive and in return, these groups will be spared from air attacks,” Akhmetov added.

Yet as has been the case repeatedly for Idlib, a limited offensive will only temporarily sidestep the key issue, namely who will control the province long-term and eventually postwar.

And even if Russia can agree a compromise, it is not always the case that Assad automatically follows Moscow’s line or that his other main ally Iran backs the Kremlin.

“The Russians and the Turks will be hard pressed to reach a sustainable, long-term agreement acceptable to the regime in northwestern Syria,” Elizabeth Teoman, Turkey analyst for the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), told AFP.

Turkey has set up 12 so-called observation points in Idlib staffed by its military, ostensibly aimed at monitoring a de-escalation zone but which also serve to protect Ankara’s interests.

Teoman said Erdogan could contemplate a possible limited offensive — with Russian and Turkish interests overlapping for now on limiting a refugee influx and promoting reconstruction in Idlib.

She said the current discussions likely did not represent an “imminent breaking point” between Moscow and Ankara but warned: “Turkey’s aspirations are in direct opposition to Assad’s goals to crush the remnants of the Syrian rebellion.”

Main category: 
New Iran, Russia, Turkey summit on Syria Sept 7 in IranTurkey’s Erdogan says will bring safety and peace to Syria, Iraq Middle-East

Tags


Popular Science

Related Stories

Syrian activists say 10 killed in Idlib bombings
  • Tue, 19 Feb 2019 01:04

Author: Associated PressID: 1550498857448243900Mon, 2019-02-18 13:30 BEIRUT: Syrian opposition activists and paramedics say two bomb blasts...

Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike
  • Sat, 16 Feb 2019 11:10

Author: AFPID: 1550270900528464400Sat, 2019-02-16 01:47 DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Turkish police on Friday prevented supporters from rallying out...

Russia tells Turkey to get Assad’s ‘green light’ for safe zone in Syria
  • Fri, 15 Feb 2019 09:29

Thu, 2019-02-14 21:47 ANKARA: Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted on Thursday a key summit on Syria with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a...

Turkey detains more than 700 over alleged links to coup bid
  • Wed, 13 Feb 2019 09:18

Author: AFPID: 1549998613242871000Tue, 2019-02-12 15:24 ANKARA: Turkish authorities detained 729 people in nationwide raids Tuesday over al...

China rejects Turkey criticism on Uighurs, denies poet died
  • Tue, 12 Feb 2019 08:22

Author: AFPID: 1549873710932392700Mon, 2019-02-11 08:21 BEIJING: China hit back on Monday against Turkish criticism over its treatment of e...

Erdogan visits site of Turkey building collapse; death toll 17
  • Sun, 10 Feb 2019 09:33

Author: Sat, 2019-02-09 22:44 ISTANBUL: Turkey’s president on Saturday visited the scene of the apartment building collapse in Istanbul for th...

Turkey condemns French declaration of Armenian genocide commemoration day
  • Wed, 06 Feb 2019 21:11

Author: ReutersID: 1549444016791877500Wed, 2019-02-06 08:49 ANKARA: Turkey on Wednesday said it strongly condemned French President Emmanue...

Soaring Turkey Vulture by Charles Schmidt
  • Thu, 31 Jan 2019 01:23

Soaring Turkey Vulture by Charles Schmidt Charles Schmidt: Photos ...

Kurdish MP on hunger strike in Turkey jail gets release order
  • Sat, 26 Jan 2019 13:50

Author: ReutersID: 1548458101690777600Sat, 2019-01-26 02:14 DIYARBAKIR: A Turkish court on Friday released a Kurdish lawmaker who was jaile...

Erdogan: Turkey will not allow Syria safe zone that will turn into ‘swamp’
  • Tue, 22 Jan 2019 01:21

Author: ReutersID: 1548074322484206500Mon, 2019-01-21 12:25 ANKARA: Turkey will never allow the implementation of a safe zone in Syria that...

Erdogan: Turkey to set up Syria ‘security zone’
  • Wed, 16 Jan 2019 00:56

Author: AFPID: 1547550089337761900Tue, 2019-01-15 10:47 ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Ankara would set u...

Turkey orders arrest of nearly 200 people over suspected Gulen ties
  • Tue, 15 Jan 2019 20:50

Author: ReutersID: 1547538132217066100Tue, 2019-01-15 07:33 ISTANBUL: Turkey ordered the arrest of 192 people over suspected links to the n...


الاقسام