The day before, Reuters, citing high-ranking officials in Ankara, reported that the Turkish army had completed preparations for a ground operation in Syria.
“There is not much left before the start of the operation. Now it depends on the president’s decision,” the article quoted one of the agency’s interlocutors as saying.
Strictly speaking, the news about the impending ground operation of Turkish troops in Syria was a little delayed. Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to hold it back in May, and even then it was supposed to start any day, but still nothing. The main goal declared by Ankara is the fight against the Kurdish self-defense units, which, according to the Turkish side, very seriously threaten its security.
True, in the six months of waiting for strikes against the Syrian Kurds, Turkey managed to carry out a ground operation against the Iraqi Kurds and even almost started a war with Greece and Cyprus – its probability, of course, is low, but not in 2022 to talk about the impossibility of any scenarios.
Moreover, the Turks even managed to carry out an air operation against the Kurds in Syria – the reason for this event was the terrorist attack in Istanbul, in which Ankara accused the PKK. By the way, after the tragedy on Istiklal Street itself, the Turkish authorities were a bit like a ship’s gun untied in a storm: they indirectly blamed not only the PKK for what happened. Damascus also got it and – suddenly – Washington.
The fact is that the organizer of the attack, Syrian citizen Ahlam al-Bashir, according to Turkish security officials, was trained by American instructors and just on the territory controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces.
In general, that is why the joint base of the international coalition and the SDS, where the military from the United States was also located, was among the 89 objects that were hit. Interestingly, the White Ho-use did not express much indignation about this.
The upcoming operation “on the ground” in northern Syria will be another for the Turkish troops – Ankara conducts them with enviable regularity, declaring the achievement of its goals every time, but for some reason it is not possible to completely eliminate the “Kurdish threat”.
There are many reasons for postponing such a promotion.
First of all, Erdogan would not want to organize such an event contrary to Russian interests: Moscow is a reliable partner of Bashar al-Assad, and its support is almost the key factor that allowed the Syrian leader to stay in power.
In this regard, the Turkish president’s statements are very indicative: last Sunday he said that he did not rule out the restoration and normalization of relations with Damascus in the near future.
“There is no room for resentment in politics,” Erdogan added philosophically.
Formally, the operation, of course, will be a violation of Syrian sovereignty, but in reality, Bashar al-Assad’s forces have little control over the territories in question. At the same ti-me, the Russian authorities also warned their Turkish partners that such a decision by Ankara would hardly contribute to strengthening stability in the region.
However, such arguments are unlikely to calm the ardor of the wayward sultan – the fact is that the military campaign in this case serves as a prologue to the election campaign: next year, Turkish citizens will elect their president, and they cannot boast of success in the domestic arena – a protracted economic crisis, accompanied by record inflation, creates fertile ground for opposition. Therefore, Erdogan is forced to compensate for the lack of bread with an excess of pride in the state.
But even here, he tries to be careful on turns, carefully pulling the USA by the mustache. Take, for example, the epic with the entry into NATO of Sweden and Finland. Today Bucharest will host a meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries.
It is important to pay attention to the context here: the government has recently changed in Stockholm, and the new prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, commenting in parliament on the bombing of Kurdish formations in Syria, said that “Turkey has the right to self-defense.” He also touched upon another important issue, which Ankara considers key for the admission of new members to the North Atlantic Alliance: Kristersson stressed that Sweden should not be a haven for terrorist organizations. Apparently, he was referring to PKK supporters whose extradition is requested by the Turkish authorities. His predecessor, Magdalena Andersson, was much less complaisant in this matter.
However, here time plays into Erdogan’s hands, which explains the flick on the nose of Scandinavian politicians from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who, on the eve of the meeting in Bucharest, said that Sweden and Finland “need to take new steps to join NATO.”
The Turkish president is very good at bargaining, and he skillfully balances actions that run counter to the interests of his partners – both the United States and Russia – with attractive concessions and prospects.
The main thing in this situation is to understand that Moscow and Ankara are not allies, but partners and neighbors who have many overlapping interests that must be taken into account, such is the multipolar world that both countries are building to the best of their ability.
And of course, an independent and at least relatively stable Turkey is a much more preferable option for Russia than a Turkey obedient to Washington.