NİHAT ALİ ÖZCAN >‘German Patriots’ and ‘the five-star hotel operation’ for Syria

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The Turkish government seems to have guaranteed the deployment of the air defense systems it demanded from NATO. The missiles will most likely be deployed at the beginning of the new year. Germany, one of the countries that will supply the missiles, has so far been careful not to be too conspicuous with respect to the Syrian crisis. However, it accepted the NATO plan without any objections. Considering the fact that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is on the outs with Chancellor Angela Merkel, it is interesting to see that there are no objections coming from Germany. Behind this silent agreement probably lies the desire of German soldiers to use the Trabzon port for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

On the other hand, alongside the “Patriot operation,” the meeting of the representatives of the Syrian armed opposition forces in Antalya is a sign of the new phase of the armed conflict. By saying that the meeting was within the knowledge of the government, Hüseyin Çelik, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson, tried to keep certain aspects of the operation quiet and manage public opinion. The Antalya meeting was only the tip of the iceberg. Many military people coming together at a five-star hotel in the tourist capital of Turkey without any security concerns and public discussion is no ordinary thing.

We will see whether the future will bring a civil war of all against all or a centralized military operation carrying the uprising to its next phase. The decentralized armed structure – the untrustworthy object of constant criticism – is functional in an insurgency aimed at disrupting the central authority. However, it cannot build a new political structure and produce stability.

The new military formation needs to address several problems. First of all, the biggest weakness is the lack of political unity. There is a major difference between those meeting at a five-star hotel and those fighting on the ground. Second, the centralization of armed groups is good military news for Bashar al-Assad. In this way, his army and intelligence will be facing not an invisible asymmetric enemy, but a symmetric enemy that is an open target. By downsizing the area to be defended, al- Assad is forcing the insurgents to solve many difficult problems. Finally, the sponsorship needs of the Syrian opposition will test the medium-term capacity of intelligence organizations, armies, countries and alliances. If German soldiers, who will be visiting this part of the world soon, plan on returning home after a couple of months like their grandfathers fighting in World War I, they might be wrong.


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