16 October 2019 11:32

As the pieces are freshly lined up in Syria

It appears possible to say that certain points in the Syria war have now attained a clarity that enables them to be underscored.

Photograph: DHA

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Fatih POLAT

Following the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, what the US is left with following the process of occupying Syria falls well short of attaining its goals. The US, as a force that has today done to the Syrian Kurds what it did to the Kurds at the time of the referendum in Iraq, is a force that, while suffering a loss of trust among allied forces on the ground, has been unable to get the rulers of Turkey to accept the option it had planned. And there can be no talk of a situation that provides it with comfort regarding any place it has occupied.

As to Russia, knowing that the intervention of the Western forces headed by the US in Syria was ultimately an intervention against it in its own area of sovereignty, it has been a force that has gradually pushed the US back and has over time been decisive in bringing about defeat for the jihadist organizations. Iran also numbers among the successful actors in these dealings as a country that provides Syria with both direct military and diplomatic aid.

With the third operation the AKP administration has staged against Syria having ended its first week, we can underline the following points in domestic and external terms. The AKP, which showed at the last elections that it was disintegrating politically, took a step in the form of this operation aimed at bringing politics back into its orbit on the back of the success of the operation thanks to the suppression of basic news items that may have a political cost for it, not least the economy. However, there is no sound intelligence enabling us to say that the support given to the operation domestically amounts in equal measure to support given to the ruling party and, thus, the AKP has fortified its political power with this move as it had wished. Just now, we find ruling party representatives and ruling party media professionals branding those who speak about the operation in divergence to the ruling party’s arguments “traitors,” “scum” and “scoundrels.” We will before long get a clearer picture of what the relationship is between the atmosphere that has been whipped up and reality.

Along with all this, following the ruling party’s contacts with the US, the fact that, even if it has pressed the button within the limits that Trump has constantly placed emphasis on, it has used its NATO membership to coerce the US in keeping with its own goals forms one part of the snapshot

Following this summary, we can pass on to what the new threshold harbingered by the agreement formed between the Syrian government and the SDF under Russia’s guarantee portends. Even if the initial reactions of Erdoğan and other representatives of the ruling party to this development took the form, “We’ll continue on our way,” Russia’s reminder that it does not wish for conflict between Syria and Turkey came as a clear message. Russia will henceforth in stages set about restricting Turkey’s presence in Syria in conjunction with a diplomatic balance that will help to place Turkey’s regional relations with the US on a shaky path.

Observers will recall how the AKP government tried to use the PYD and YPG in relation to its targets countering the Syrian regime in the contacts it made with the PYD during the “solution” process, but the PYD’s stance was not to be part of somebody else’s war in line with its “third way” strategy. The AKP administration has now, as a force that has overturned the table domestically and launched an operation abroad, pushed the Kurdish side towards agreement with the Syrian government as this political chain effect played itself out.

The new relationship under Russia’s guarantee between the Syrian government and the Kurdish forces on the ground has placed a rock that does not appear easily surmountable in front of the AKP’s operational goals. From what has been gleaned until now from the field about the nature of this relationship indicates that the agreement takes the form of an oral agreement that gives preference above all to day-to-day priorities. Undoubtedly, as the Syrian government entrenches itself over time and begins to impose control in the north, fresh balances will determine the basis of the relationship between the Syrian Kurds and Damascus. Even if those who read the process from a perspective close to the Syrian government are more optimistic in their interpretations, a far-from-easy process awaits the Syrian Kurds in the upcoming period in view of their demands to govern the region in which they are situated.

Let me stress as I wind up that, apart from a restricted circle, the civilian analyses in Turkey just now are positioned outside the bounds of reason. And the country is paying the price for suppressing the truth to this extent.

(Translated by Tim DRAYTON)

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