by Dr. Abdullah Manaz
For a long time, Turkiye had remained silent to besiege of Peace Monitoring Points which were established within the framework of the Sochi Agreements, by Assad regime.
Encouraged by this silence, Russia and the Assad regime took action to take over Idlib in its entirety. Their primary goal was to capture the M4 and M5 motorways linking Aleppo to Latakia and Damascus. The capture of these highways by the Assad regime meant that Idlib was taken over entirely.
Turkiye was late in reacting to the blockade, and from the beginning of 2020, Syria Idlib and Aleppo highway linking Damascus were seized completely. The Assad regime received air support from Russia and soldier support from Iran and Hezbollah in these operations.
Another important point here; HTS (Hayat al-Tahrir al-Sham), which is in a strong position in Idlib, did not show any serious resistance. HTS quickly withdrew its tanks and armored vehicles from the region. This situation can be given three meanings:
- First, the HTS is not really a strong organization as it was supposed to be, and it was withdrawn in order not to disappear completely.
- Second, according to many rumors, HTS is partially receiving support from the United States and has been withdrawn by the United States. The aim of the USA was to confront Turkiye and Russia.
- A third possibility is not too far away. Russian Intelligence Staff of Caucasian origin also has an impact on the HTS. They continue to exist to justify Russia’s intervention in the region, but they do not really fight. A very important part of Idlib and Aleppo were lost in previous years due to the withdrawal of HTS. So, in a sense, Dais Terrorist Organization transferred the fields it had to PKK Terrorist Organization with show wars. Also, HTS handed over its fields to Russia and the Assad regime over time.
In fact, there are two opposition groups in Idlib who are really struggling: the first is the Syrian National Army. The organization is supported by Turkey and It is considered as an official military wing of the Syrian opposition. Perhaps the other most influential armed group in the Idlib region is Uyghur Warriors. This group stopped all the attacks of Russia from Latakia to Turkmen Mountain. Despite the heavy air attacks, Uyghur Warriors did not put the pro-Russian groups and the most important Mechanized Union of the Syrian regime into Idlib.
Let’s talk about the main point: It seems that Turkiye will not take a back step about Idlib. In fact, in the last months, the silence of Turkiye had created a huge disappointment among the supporters of Turkey in the Arab world as well. We haven’t actually written so far, but enemies and some friends of Turkiye in the Arab World had been likened Turkiye to Armed Straw Man in Idlib. If Turkiye does not erase that image, it will lose a great reputation in the region This situation will also affect Turkish operations of Afrin, ElBab and east of Euphrates in the future.
At this point, Turkey wants to pull the Syrian Regime to the old limits in Idlib. It has completed all his military preparations in this regard. The only problem is Russia’s Air Defense System and Powers in the region. Neither Iran nor the Assad regime can stand against Syrian Opponents without Russian support.
So it will be Turkiye needs strong air support for Its Idlib operation. If it does this itself, he is likely to give some casualties. Probably, this support seems to be available from the United States in recent talks. Although NATO countries such as France and Germany, not look at it hot the military help, Britain and the United States are seriously considering to give military support to Turkiye. Because of the Syrian Regime is weakened, both Britain and the USA will relax more in southern Syria and regain their former allies.
Despite all this, will Russia maintain its obstinate? It’s a little difficult. There is a lot to lose in the region. Things can be reversed not only in Syria, but also in the Black Sea, Eastern Europe, and Libya. Putin is not considering taking this risk, but some Israeli-backed Russian Oligarchs in the Kremlin are not considering retreating.
We will see the situation together.
However, it is certain that; If Turkey performs its Idlib operation with air support of the Coalition, Russia will lose much.
About Author: Dr. Manaz is a Strategy Expert, Freelance Journalist and Blogger: www.manaz.net. He published 25 books about the Middle East, Terrorism and Islamic Groups.