Will Erdoğan slam Putin after G-20 summit?
The “conviction” about the use of chemical weapons by the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria might open the way for a Kosovo-style military intervention.
The international community is regretfully thankful to Russia for the emergence of the concept, as it emerged during the war in Kosovo, in order to bypass the Russian veto in the United Nations Security Council. In 1999, NATO forces conducted air strikes against the Serbian military without the backing of the Security Council.
The Russians were infuriated at the time, but the retaliation didn’t come until nearly a decade later, in the summer of 2008, during the Russia–Georgia war, which led to the de facto separation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgian rule.
So the question is, what will be the Russian reaction to a military intervention in Syria, where the regime’s survival has, to a great degree, been possible with all sorts of assistance provided by Moscow?
The general view dominating Ankara is that Russia won’t do much, other than issue angry statements, if a military strike were to take place. Actually, it is not Russia that has been tying the hands of the Western countries about intervening in Syria, but rather their own hesitations. Were they to decide to take action, it won’t be Russia that they will be worried about.
However, Russian cooperation is still important in both handling the issue without a military strike and handling the issue after the strike. In the current situation, it looks like there will be a limited intervention, which will come short of toppling the regime altogether.
The West needs Russia for the transition period in Syria, which is why the final decision for the military strike might have to wait until next week’s G–20 summit in St. Petersburg.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will go to Russia to attend the summit. While abroad, I expect that he might take a break from his routine daily bashings. While in Turkey, it has become a regular exercise to wait and see who will get his or her share of Erdoğan’s criticism this time. No one escapes his fury: Israel, the West, the EU, the European Parliament, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Bernard Henry Levy, the Nobel committee; the list goes and on and on.
Interestingly, he has been quiet for some time on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is the main supporter of Syria’s Bashar al–Assad. Erdoğan has asked to have a bilateral meeting with Putin on the margins of the G-20 summit, but it is highly unlikely for the two to find common ground on Syria. We’ll see if Putin will make it onto the hit list, upon Erdoğan’s return to Turkey.