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:
April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail