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Russian Gambit

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This text was submitted by Murat Mutlu, SouthFront’s reader from Turkey. SouthFront does not share views of the author to a great extent. For example, SouthFront thinks that there are 3 sides that benefit from the recent developments in northeastern Syria: the United States (the Trump administration), Turkey and the Russian-Syrian bloc. We described this in our recent video analysis “Syrian Kurds’ Protection Deal With Assad, Explained”. The most successful side in this situation, in our point of view, is Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan personally. Meanwhile, we believe that the point of view provided by Mr. Mutlu is interesting and express gratitude for the provided article.

Russian Gambit

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In renowned motion picture “Godfather” (1974), Vito Corleone explains to his consigliore Tom Hagen after the Meeting of the Dons as “I did not know Barzini was the man behind the scene up to now”. Consigliore Tom Hagen is surprised totally unaware of Barzini’s part in the act.

Myself also deemed that Turkey’s insistence on performing an operation to the East of Euphrates, which could be expressly and easily interpreted as a domestic suicide for Ak Parti government considering the existing economic pressure and other political difficulties even to become more fatal with the for-sure-possible responses to such an operation, was an idea of Ak Party’s own thinking/ideological mechanism. I regarded also that was a result of the heavy pressure exerted by public opinion due to the Syrian refugee population in Turkey as well as, but maybe, the prospected promises of a military victory which might have been deemed, by Mr. Erdoğan and colleagues, to change the domestic political equilibrium to the favor of Ak Parti within Turkey.

Still, when thought the risks to arise, such a choice seemed a very desperate manner. Something was  missing there. It resembled a decision too risky for Turkey to take without any strong inducement. Think about the harsh threats and resistance demonstrated by USA, not known to be fake at that time.

I did not know Russia was the motivator behind the operation up to last few weeks.

The fact is concretely sensed for the first time when Mr. Lavrov started to speak about the possible Turkish operation as a “normal right of self defense” or so, just a couple of days before the start. It was surprising when one knows that Mr. Assad strongly protests such an operation as always but Russia declares in contrary.

Then it was clear suddenly.

And now, unbreakably proven with the current situation.

Russian Gambit

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Stage 1

Russia promoted, encouraged and pushed Turkey towards the operation. The most important step in such a motivation by Russia was that she kept Turkey and Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) contactless despite her official declarations for the need of communication between the two.

The non-existence of communication between Turkey and SAR was crucial, since, otherwise, Turkey could sense and feel that the latter may perform such an operation naturally and she not needs to intervene in the theater physically, but just support SAR instead to enjoy the same fruits. Russia prevented the mutual understanding between two countries and accordingly pushed Turkey to feel as she was the only one to realize Operation Peace Spring.

This act of secret promoting was stage one with wonderful supporting moves of keeping Syria and Turkey unaware of each others’ wills.

Stage 2

Once the operation commenced and progressed, it was the time for midgame moves. Here, you should recall that Mr. Assad declared PYD/PKK as a terrorist organization one week ago with UN and also rejected the demand of the latter to reach an agreement against the Operation Peace Spring just through the first days of the same.

Mr. Assad’s recent aforementioned declaration, together with the rejection towards the demand of PYD/PKK on day two I suppose, were also concealing and brilliant moves probably planned/advised by Russians. The aim for such initial rejection was to make Turkey think definitely that Syria and PYD/PKK by no means can reach to an agreement during the course of the operation. So, with such sureness, Turkey thought that it may perform the operation slowly towards Manbij, Hasaka and Raqqa considering that their time will come without a need for a hurry and worry.

Then as a blitz, came the agreement between Syria and PYD/PKK for the aforementioned cities and around. A shocking and paralyzing midgame originality.

Such a waiting period was also preferred as since it was necessary that Turkey and PYD/PKK, and USA also, to enter in a tangled phase of fighting; so locked that may not free each other despite any contrary-requiring development.

Russian Gambit

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However, one even thinks if such course of events could be a joint plan of Turkey and Russia towards the exhaustion of PYD. Well, not so strong a possibility but not that weak also when considered Mr. Erdoğan’s latest tolerance and smile about Mambij falling into the hands of Mr. Assad. A surprising manner when considered his traditional negative perception towards Syrian President. Can it be like, Turkey scares and Syria captures?

Another point worth to analyze is that the Russian forces entering in Manbij; and Turkey not pushing her chance more towards there does not depend on the physical superiority of Russia against Turkey. That is to say, if Turkey had managed to enter in Manbij before Russians, the latter would not push her chance also since it could result with unbearable consequences for Russia in Syrian theater. This was a dominance arising out of the tactical conjuncture which only could be managed when understood the abstract parameter of winning here; but also requiring the mathematical calculations on such uncertainty. Enter first and you shall stay there. Russian plan was based on that and proved to be effective.

Moves to come

Not everything lasted yet; but since the opening and midgame are won by Russians now, it is only left to perform the endgame carefully and as wise as before.

Since Mambij and Hasaka are now under control of Syria and Russia, Turks will expect the neutralization of PKK threat therein. This will be a key determinant for Turkey to continue its role side by side with Russia.

Another important issue is the Free Syrian Army fighting together with Turkish forces. How shall Turkey cope with such a mass, if it is clear that she acts and/or will act together with Syria and Russia? A hard issue but some options do exist.

But now, thanks to Mr. Trump’s unmatched view of considering the intervention to Middle East by USA is a foolishness, PYD is destroyed (not to mention the role of the unmatched ability of Turkish military force which generated the things to occur in light-speed surprising probably even Russians) and Turkey is much more close to the pact of Eurasia. Take also into account the economic attack on Turkey being planned by nearly all the Western countries, the way to a united and sovereign Syria seems more close.

Well played MR. COMRADE.

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