President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has recently said this summer would be a hot one for terrorists and their supporters in Syria.
“We will first clear Manbij from terrorists and then we will continue our operation in order to secure the eastern Euphrates for us and our Syrian brothers,” he said.
An operation stretching all the way to the border with Iraq would fundamentally change the balance in Syria. It might also lead to a confrontation with American soldiers and pave the way for splits within NATO.
While it might satisfy Moscow and Tehran, they would not want Turkey to expand its area of control and for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s area of dominance to decrease.
If the diplomatic situation is so complex, why has the president declared such an operation?
Political move not military tactic
Technological advances have reached such a level that all military movements in Syria can be tracked on Google. In fact, the political timing of operations in our era is crucial.
That is why Erdoğan’s repeated mention in advance of a summer operation is a political move, not a military tactic. With these talks, he warns all relevant countries, including the United States, Russia and Iran, that if they “cannot develop a political solution that would ensure Turkey’s security,” then Turkey “is determined to intervene!”
It is actually the right thing to do as long as it remains in a well-balanced dose. Indeed, we have witnessed the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Ankara, which has led to a “positive meeting” between the two countries.
On the other hand, domestic politics will also be affected by these discussions. Syria will definitely be a hot topic in the upcoming elections.
The Eastern Ghouta disaster is important for understanding the complex picture in Syria. Erdoğan lashed out at the U.S. Department of Defense’s spokesperson, calling him “remorseless and immoral” for remaining silent towards the massacre and suffering of hundreds of children, women and civilians in Eastern Ghouta.
The al-Assad regime is responsible for this disaster.
We don’t lash out at Russian President Vladimir Putin because Turkey’s relations with Russia are good nowadays. However, Putin is a supporter of the Eastern Ghouta disaster.
When the West and the U.S. accused Russia, the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied the accusations. On the same day, Britain and Russia called for a United Nations Security Council meeting. It’s such a humanitarian approach, is it not?
Meanwhile, when they discussed the ceasefire for Eastern Ghouta. Russia noted the ceasefire should be valid everywhere in Syria. Does that include the Afrin district? Russia said if Assad is to be stopped, then all actors should stop in Eastern Ghouta.
Doesn’t Russia’s approach toward Eastern Ghouta show the limits of good relations between Turkey and Russia on the issue of Syria?
Furthermore, based on the Astana deal, Eastern Ghouta is a “de-escalation zone,” but despite this, the massacre there is ongoing under Russia’s supervision. At some unknown point, Russia will object to Turkey. It should not be forgotten that the purpose of its current positive behavior is to create a split within NATO.
After the Eastern Ghouta disaster, the U.S. State Department spokesperson mentioned “the failure of the Astana process” and highlighted the importance of Geneva peace talks, in which the U.S. has been more effective.
In short, the diplomatic situation in Syria is extremely complex. Turkey should avoid being independent and carry out rational diplomacy without focusing too much on “today’s friendships” and “today’s enemies.”
At the end of the day, strategic aspects of military operations will be shaped by diplomacy.