On Wednesday, Recep Erdogan issued a warning that the operation of the Turkish armed forces could begin at any time in the Syrian province of Idlib. The Turkish Anadolu agency, which reported this, quoted Erdogan’s main demand: "The forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime must stop their aggressive actions and move beyond the de-escalation zone."
Some time ago, it became known that Syrian militants, with the support of Turkish special forces, attacked the SAA in the area of Nairab. Syrian troops repelled the first onslaught of the enemy, but he, regrouping, went on a new offensive. At the moment, part of Nairab has come under the control of militants.
Against this background, it is worth talking about whether the Turkish army, or rather directly Erdogan, has weak spots in Syria.
The argument against the opposition
Many experts regarded this statement and the steps of the Turkish leader as a manifestation of his neo-Ottoman policy. The fact is that Erdogan made his ultimatum statement at a meeting of the parliamentary faction of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The backbone of this conservative party is riddled with neo-Ottoman sentiment, implying a resurgence of Turkey’s political influence in territories formerly in its imperial possessions. This politicum now often recalls the vow made at the last meeting by members of the Ottoman parliament.
They vowed at all costs to return the lands lost by the empire. This list also includes the northwestern provinces of modern Syria, partially controlled today by the Turkish military. In Ankara, this circumstance was regarded as the beginning of the fulfillment by President Erdogan of the vow of the last Ottoman deputies.
The Turkish leader himself revived the topic. Recently, he criticized the opposition, demanding the completion of a military mission to Syria and the start of direct negotiations with Assad. Erdogan then directly referred to the vow of the Ottomans and called on the nation to consolidate to fulfill it.
Trump promises support
Against the background of patriotic rhetoric that has swept Turkey, it is noteworthy that, before his statement in parliament, Recep Erdogan spoke by telephone with US President Donald Trump. The American leader promised his Turkish counterpart support.
“The parties during the conversation agreed that the attacks of the Syrian forces in the Idlib region are unacceptable, and exchanged views on how to end this crisis,” the Erdogan administration said in a press release.
Meanwhile, when the Turkish leader launched a military operation in the Kurdish areas of Syria last October, the Americans did not help Erdogan in his cross-border operation, and Turkey restrained its appetites. Why did this time Trump and Erdogan agree?
The answer can be found in the replica of the Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Vasily Nebenzi, voiced at a meeting of the Security Council. The Permanent Representative advised the Americans to stop supporting the militants of the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham group (created on the basis of the Jabhat al-Nusra banned in Russia).
Referring to the speech of US representative James Jeffrey, who said that “it’s kind of possible to negotiate with this group,” Nebenzya recalled the position of Russia. It will not allow "to provide political cover for terrorists and force the Syrian government to negotiate with them."
A senior Russian diplomat, in fact, confirmed what experts have been saying for a long time: Americans supply money to militants in Idlib and weapons, provide them with information and political support. Erdogan also knows this, so he called Trump so as not to run into the interests of the United States in Syria.
Turkish army with its policy
There is another interested party in this topic - the Turkish army. Cleared after the attempted coup of 2016, it has changed little. The decades when the Turkish army was a state in a state have not been in vain for the country.
After all, the entire political extraterritoriality of the Turkish military was formed in American academies and NATO headquarters. Today, in place of the generals and officers dismissed by Erdogan, who had compromised themselves by the coup, other people who had been fostered by the same Western centers came.
It is possible that because of their opposition, Recep Erdogan could not fulfill his promise - to separate the moderate opposition in Idlib from the terrorists and remove the militants from the province. Instead, Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham has grown and began to control almost the entire de-escalation zone.
The renaissance of the terrorist group arose on money and weapons that entered Idlib through Turkish territory. Maybe someone thinks that such a volume of funds and cargo was transported by ordinary smugglers, but it could not have done without the participation of the Turkish military, controlling the border area.
The Turkish military in Syria has its own policy different from Erdogan, as evidenced by the recent relocation of the Koral electronic warfare system (EW) complex to Idlib. This is a Turkish development similar to our "Kraukha". According to experts, it can coolly pat the nerves of Russian pilots from Khmeimim.
It turns out that the Turkish military relocated Koral to deter the Russian VKS. Then this is more consistent with the position of Washington than Ankara. Indeed, just the other day, Recep Erdogan, in connection with the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib, told Turkish reporters: “There is no need to get involved in a conflict or in a serious dispute with Russia at the moment, we will discuss everything, but without anger, taking into account that we there are joint initiatives of a special strategic nature. ”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry adheres to a similar position. “Turkey will strengthen contacts with Russia to resolve the situation in Idlib,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with TRT on Thursday.
The Turkish military must now hear both its president and the opinion of the foreign ministry. Most likely, they will be corrected. Minister Cavusoglu told the channel that contacts between Turkey and Russia will now intensify. “Perhaps the meeting between the presidents of Turkey and Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, will take place.” Ankara does not want to complicate our bilateral relations because of the Syrian Idlib. But if it does take place, it is now in today's realities: Turkish troops support the militants' offensive, Turkish special forces are involved, the Turkish army openly opposed the SAA in Idlib.