FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Turkey’s Power Play

Recent development in the war in Syria and Iraq have prompted some to take a closer look at Turkey and what maybe Erdogan’s grand strategy towards Syria. As the coalition forces, which include not only the usual NATO members but also a handful of Arab partner states have come together to conduct air strikes against the Islamic State, the spotlight has turned to Turkey to see if they will join the fight. As Turkish forces amass on the border with Syria and passively watch the IS slaughter Kurds in Kobani across the border, Turkey’s leadership made its conditions clear to the world: if they enter Syria to fight the IS, they are going to go all the way to Damascus, and the allies better agree to this plan beforehand.

So far, Turkey’s role in the conflict has been somewhat shady. Its key contribution was a largely porous border with Syria which led to thousands of jihadists from across the world to come and join the Islamic State ranks, creating a substantial terrorist threat to the world. Also Turkey continuously said that it wanted Assad out of Syria, and supported various Syrian rebel groups. However, as the conflict escalates Turkey’s role is about to become larger.

It is pretty clear that the Islamic State cannot be fully dismantled only with airstrikes, and a ground war is imminent. The situation on the ground looks bleak: we have under-armed Kurdish forces, an incompetent Iraqi army, a tired and preoccupied Syrian army, and a whole lot of fragmented militia groups like the FSA. Given the fact that some of these are fighting against each other on multiple fronts, they don’t stand a chance to defeat the IS, even with air support. The coalition countries are highly reluctant to enter into a ground war, and understandably so. So who is left, capable and willing to take on the IS. Iran is a possibility, but I don’t need to explain why the coalition forces will never let that happen. Turkey therefore is left as the only real chance of defeating the Islamic State, and the rest of the coalition are realizing it too little too late.

It therefore seems that Turkey may have a power play to really extend its influence in the region. If Turkey enters a full scale invasion of Syria, it will probably defeat the Syrian part of the IS without much difficulty, pushing the militants back to Iraq to regroup. It is hard to project how long it will take for Turkey to take out Damascus, but if other coalition forces join in on the fight against Assad, it shouldn’t take long. Afterwards, we have either a Turkey or a NATO occupied Syria, where they will likely hold elections all too soon, and a moderate Sunni Islamist government will be elected, likely with a very pro-Turkish stance.

But why is Turkey sitting on its border, watching idly how the Kurds are violently pushed out of their homes without doing anything about it? Well, it is – as always – about smart timing. If they go in too early, the will be perceived as aggressors intervening in other people’s business. If they go in too late, they will look like building up empire on ruins. But intervening in the moment the world is sick of its inability to act on slaughter and massacre, in the moment that Turkey is the only game in town – this is when Turkey will be savior-conqueror.

This will be seen as predictable, legitimate and acceptable by the world community. If this scenario unfolds, Turkey will really enter as a regional superpower once again, instead of watching from quasi-European sidelines, which will piss off Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Countries on one hand and really piss off Iran and Russia on the other.

Vincent McNamara is conflict analyst living southern Europe.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail