By Ghassan Kadi
February 07, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" -
Even though the Syrian Army,
with the aid of its international friends and
allies, especially Russia, has been able to score
many victories and liberate most of Syria’s major
cities from the control of terrorist groups, the
fight is far from over.
Before the situation in the American-controlled
North-East is addressed, the Western regions,
including Idlib and its surrounds must be put back
fully under the legitimate government control.
As a matter of fact, politically speaking, the
situation now is perhaps more complex to deal with
than nine years ago when the “War on Syria” took
form. Almost exactly nine years ago, the enemies of
Syria combined efforts to launch a joint attack.
United only by their hatred for Syria, they had
diverse agendas, but they combined efforts in order
to capitalize on each other’s strengths. The Wahhabi
version of Islamists, headed by Saudi Arabia, joined
hands with the Muslim Brotherhood version headed by
Turkey and financed by Qatar, and they all joined
hands with NATO, Israel and Lebanese ultra-right
militia among other vendetta groups, for the single
purpose of deposing President Assad and replacing
the legitimate secular Syrian Government with one
that is sectarian and pliable to the will of the
They failed in achieving their combined
objectives and some of the armies they created, such
as Jaysh Al-Islam, headed by former Syrian Army
officer Zahran Alloush, ceased to exist. Alloush was
killed in a Syrian Army attack in December 2015, but
the casualties also included conspirators who were
sidelined and lost their careers; the most prominent
of which is Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, who was
perhaps the single biggest architect of the attack
The tides began to turn in favour of Syria after
the Syrian Army scored its huge victory in the
Battle of Qusayr in mid-2013. This was a decisive
battle that basically disabled the terrorists from
linking the Damascus province with their northern
supply lines. Without this victory, in retrospect,
it would be arguable if Syria would have been able
to earn much support from Russia; if any at all.
Syria had to show a fighting spirit, resolve,
determination and respect for her to reach such an
echelon. After all, Russia does not only by
tradition honour and respect those who stand up with
dignity against all odds, but on the geopolitical
scene, and after decades of being sidelined by the
Western bloc, any Russian global move had to be
fully and thoroughly assessed before any venture was
to be undertaken.
It was crucial for Russia therefore, and for
President Putin in particular, to ensure that the
presence of Russian troops in Syria had very high
chances of success.
The fragmentation of Syria’s enemies began to
take form before Russian action in the skies and on
the soil of Syria. The Saudi’s first and biggest
disappointment was when the USA refused to level
Damascus to the ground after Prince Bandar
orchestrated the alleged Ghouta chemical attack in
September 2013. That was Bandar’s last draw after
the loss of Al-Qusayr and his attempts to blackmail
Putin by threatening him to unleash Islamists in
From that point in time onwards, the Saudi role
in the “War on Syria” dwindled and came to an end
with the demise of Alloush. But as the tensions
between Qatar and Saudi Arabia emerged in 2017,
Qatar remained “represented” via its ally Turkey.
Erdogan was initially determined to victoriously
pray at the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus early in the
piece. But he is still determined to get a bite of
the cherry, a consolation prize, despite all the
setbacks that his former camp has endured.
After Turkey downed the Russian Su-24 in November
2015, the relationship between Turkey and Russia
reached its nadir. But the pragmatist Erdogan soon
apologized to Putin and eventually reached an
agreement about how to deal with the deadlock
situation in Idlib.
But Erdogan is not coming clean about his
commitment to what became to be known as the Sochi
Erdogan defiantly continues to wear the hat of a
fully-fledged NATO member, a close friend and ally
of Russia, the leader of the nation that is desirous
to enter the EU, an Islamist who wants to rebuild
the Ottoman Empire, and a nationalist who is willing
and able to deal with Kurdish issue. What he does
not see is that whilst those antics gain him
popularity amongst sympathetic Muslim supporters, on
the international scene, he is increasingly making a
mockery out of himself.
His clear-to-see contradictions seem
mind-boggling, but to the pragmatic Erdogan who is
trying as hard as he can to be Sultan, his mind is
fixated on Islamism and nationalism, and he is
performing as if he has found himself a Fatwa that
permits him to dance to the tunes of the devil to
reach his ultimate objectives.
Among other things, to Putin, Erdogan portrays
himself as Russia’s friend who is reconsidering his
alliance with the US and even wants to buy Russian
S-400 defence missile systems. To America, he
remains as a NATO member and an American ally who
wants to buy America’s latest state-of the-art F-35
fighter jets. On one hand, he makes verbal attacks
against Israel, but continues to opt to have strong
diplomatic ties with that state. He pledges support
for the Palestinian cause but offers no evidence to
put his words into action.
If Erdogan truly deserves any recognition and
respect at all, it would have to be for his ability
to meander his way through and survive amongst all
the contradictions that he has deliberately and
systemically implanted along his path.
He could be running out of options; at least in
Syria, but this doesn’t stop him from making yet
more contradictory statements within a few days of
each other. By the end of January 2020 he threatened
to take a new offensive in Syria over the
Russian-backed Syrian Army offensive in Idlib.
A few days later, he made a U-turn and declared that
he will not allow the situation in Idlib to sour his
relationship with Russia.
But in between the two statements which are only
four days apart, the Syrian Army has shelled Turkish
positions and purportedly killed six Turkish
soldiers and injured about a dozen. Whilst such an
unprecedented incident should have sent Erdogan
firing up as one would expect, according to
Palestinian veteran journalist, Abdul Bari Atwan,
this wasn’t to happen this time.
In a translation-worthy article, Russia and Syria
have decided to take action in Idlib and they are no
longer waiting for Erdogan to abide by his promises
Atwan’s article’s title translates as: “What
does the Syrian shelling of Turkish troops in
Sarakob and the killing of six Turkish soldiers
signify? And, what is the Russian message to Erdogan?
And, did the Russians and the Turks tear up the
Sochi Agreement? And, who will emerge as a winner in
the bone-crushing battle in Idlib?”
According to Atwan’s analysis, the Syrian
shelling of Turkish positions signaled the end of
the line of joint Russian-Syrian patience with
Erdogan’s lack of commitment to the Sochi Agreement.
Atwan argues that opinion polls within Turkey
indicate that Erdogan does not have the support of
escalating in Syria and neither that of sending
troops to Libya for that matter.
Did Atwan see the end of the line of Erdogan’s
lies and contradictions this time? I personally hope
he did. I must admit that in my previous analysis I
have predicted several times that Erdogan had made
his final and detrimental mistake . Somehow he
always manages to slither out of the hole he was in
and keep going.
Has he made his final and lethal mistake or is he
going to relent and let Syria be?
Time will tell.
This article was
published by "The
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