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The Saker: “Erdogan Loses The Battle, But The War Is Far From Over”

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The Saker: "Erdogan Loses The Battle, But The War Is Far From Over"

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Written by The Saker; Originally appeared at The Unz Review

Following 6 hours of grueling negotiations, including direct negotiations between Putin and Erdogan, the parties have finally agreed to the following:

  1. A ceasefire will begin at midnight.
  2. Russia and Turkey will jointly patrol the M4 highway (M5 now belongs to Damascus). A 6km buffer zone will have to be created and enforced on each side of M4 by the March 15th (see map above)
  3. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  4. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to a create the conditions for a return of the refugees.
  5. Both parties have reaffirmed that this conflict as no military solution.

Furthermore, there was a lot of things which were left unsaid, but understood by all:

  1. The recent military gains of the Syrian military will not be disputed and otherwise challenged. The new line of contact has now become official.
  2. Russia and Syria will continue to fight all the organizations which the UNSC has declared “terrorist” (al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and all their franchises irrespective of any “rebranding”).
  3. Moscow remains as committed to the protection of the legitimate Syrian government as ever.

From the above we can also deduce the following:

  1. Erdogan’s Blitzkrieg has failed. Initially, the Turkish drones inflicted major damage on the Syrian forces, but the latter adapted extremely quickly which resulted in what the Russians jokingly referred to as “dronopad” which can roughly be translated as “dronerain”.
  2. The Turks were clearly shocked by the Russian decision to bomb a Turkish battalion. What apparently happened is this: two Syrian Su-22 (old Soviet aircraft) bombed the convoy to force it to stop, then a pair of Russian Su-34 (the most modern Russian all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft) dropped heavy ordinance on the convoy and surrounding buildings killing scores of Turkish special forces). Both sides decided to “blame” the Syrians, but they don’t fly Su-34, and everybody knows that.
  3. Erdogan understood that he either had to double down or declare victory and leave. He wisely chose the latter, at least as a temporary measure.
  4. Neither NATO nor the EU showed any signs of wanting to join Turkey’s war on Syria (because that is what we are really dealing with here), and neither did the US. Since I cannot call that decision “wise” (there is no wisdom of any kind left in western regimes), I will call it simply “prudent” as Russia was not about to allow Turkey to invade Syria.
  5. Iran, Hezbollah, and Libya all declared their willingness to fight the Turks for as long as needed and anywhere where needed.

In spite of these developments, it is pretty clear that internal Turkish politics will continue to force Erdogan to engage in what is politely called “neo-Ottoman” policies aka phantom pains for a lost empire. The obvious solution for Russia is to further arm the Syrians, especially with modernized versions of the Pantsir SAMs which have proven very effective against drones, MLRS rockets and even mortars.

The main Syrian problem is a lack of numbers. Until more forces are equipped, trained, deployed and engaged, the Russians need to provide a much stronger air defense capabilities to Syria. The Syrians have done miracles with old, frankly outdated, Soviet equipment (which, considering its age and lack of proper maintenance, has performed superbly), but now they need much better Russian gear to defend not only against Turkey, but also against the Axis of Kindness (US+Israel+KSA).

Furthermore, it is my opinion that the Russian task force in Khmeimim and Tartus is too big and not well balanced. Khmeimin needs many more Su-25SM3 and a few more Su-35S/Su-30SM to protect them. The naval base at Tartus lacks ASW capabilities, as does much of the Russian naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean. And while the Russian Navy has a number of ships with “Kalibr” cruise missiles onboard, their numbers are, again, inadequate, which means that the Russian Aerospace Forces need to deploy as many Kalibr-capable aircraft in southern Russia as possible. Both Tartus and Khmeimim are pretty close to the Idlib province (that is also were the “good terrorist” tried to strike Russian forces from which, thanks to the successful Syrian offensive, they now cannot do anymore!). This suggests to me that Russia ought to declare a larger exclusive air control zone over both of this locations, and beef up the numbers of missiles and launchers the Russian air defenses will have to enforce it.

Finally, I think that Erdogan has outlived his utility for Russia (and for Turkey, for that matter!). He clearly is a loose cannon which, according to some rumors, even the Turkish public opinion is getting fed up with. Russia should not neglect that public opinion. Then there are the Libyans, “Field Marshal” Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, whose forces seems to have been extremely successful against the Turkish forces in Libya. The Russians are, quietly, supporting Haftar who, while not exactly an ideal ally for Russia, can prove useful. What the Russians need to do next is to explain two things to Erdogan and his ministers:

  1. If you attack again in Syria, you will be defeated, possibly worse than the first time around
  2. If you mess with our geostrategic interests, we will mess with yours

The only party which the Russians should never arm are the Kurds, who are even more unreliable than Erdogan and who are basically an Israeli asset to destabilize Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. Russia should, however, talk to the Kurds (all factions) and convince them to accept a large cultural autonomy inside Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey could be added to this list, but only once a trustworthy government comes to power in Ankara. Under no circumstances should Russia arm the Kurds.

Right now, the best Russian ally in the region is Syria. This is the country which Russia needs to make safe by creating a truly modern air defense network. The Russians have already done a lot towards this goal, including integrating their combat management and EW systems, but that is not enough. While Russian aid and Syrian skills have forced the Israelis to conduct mostly symbolic and ineffective air strikes, often with missiles shot from outside the Syrian airspace, and while many (most) Israeli missiles were destroyed by the Syrian air defenses, it is pretty clear that both the Turks and the Israelis feel that if they launch missiles from long distance they are relatively safe. That perception needs to be changed, not only to force the Turks and the Israelis to shoot from even further and accept even more losses, but also to show the US, NATO and Europe that the Syrian air defenses are capable of making anything short of a massive attack pointless (and a massive attack costly).

We should also note that the Turkish propaganda machine has been very effective. Yes, a lot of what they said was self-evidently “feelgood” nonsense (thousands of dead Syrians, hundred of tanks, etc.) , but their footage of a Turkish drone striking a Pantsir in Libya did, at least initially, impress those who don’t understand air defense warfare (destroying a single isolated first-generation Pantsir is not that hard, especially from right above it, but destroying a Pantsir position in which launchers protect each other is quite different. And if that Pantsir position is protected “below” (AA+MANPADS) and “above” (medium to long range SAMs), then this becomes extremely difficult).

This war is not over and it won’t be until Erdogan is removed from power. Frankly, Russia needs a stable and trustworthy partner on her southern border, and that won’t happen until the Turks ditch Erdogan. The problem here is that God only knows who might succeed him, should the Gulenists seize power, that will not be good for Russia either.

And here we come back to the murder of General Suleimani. Frankly, the Iranians are spot on: the two things which made the Middle-East into the bloody mess it has been for decades are 1) Israel and 2) the US. The end goal for the former is a one-state solution, whether accepted or imposed. The intermediate goal ought to be to get the US out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and, possibly, Turkey. Erdogan is crazy and desperate enough (not to mention vengeful) to at least bring this intermediate goal one step closer by alienating the US and NATO. So the Russian game plan ought to be obvious: first, use military means to “contain Erdogan inside Turkey” and, next, engage in long term efforts to prepare for a post-Erdogan Turkey. Then let the SOB destroy himself.

I don’t believe that peace is possible between a secular Syria and a Takfiri-backing Turkey. And I sure don’t believe that the Takfiris can be remolded into any kind of “democratic opposition”. Thus the real end-goal for Russia and Syria will always be military victory, not “peace” (assuming that concept of “peace with the Takfiris” makes any sense at all, which it doesn’t). The Russians know that, even if they won’t admit it.

For the time being, what we see is the first phase of the Turkey-Syria war ending and for the next couple of weeks we shall see a transition into some other phase which will probably be one in which, surprise surprise, the Turks fail to remove all the Takfiri nutcases from Idlib which will then give Syria and Russia a legal reason to take direct action again. In theory, at least, Erdogan could decide to pour the Turkish armed forces across the border, but the closer they will get to Khmeimim and/or Tartus, the more dangerous the stakes for Turkey and for Erdogan personally.

The key to success for the Axis of Resistance is to make Syria too tough to crack. I hope that Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq will continue to work together, hopefully with Chinese aid, to create such a Syria.

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Horace Lacondeta

I personally hope that Erdogan will stay the longest possible.
Nobody did more harm to Turkey, within or abroad, than him. This guy is a blessing for many of us. Same reasoning with Trump.

Albert Pike

The next one after Erdogan will be as bad as him. So better him…

As with Trump – there are no choices. He is going to leave Afghanistan, and he will leave Syria too, – sooner rather than later…

Shia man

You really believe US will leave Afghanistan as soon as they signed the deal with Taliban They(Taliban) left there caves then America carried out air strikes on them. ?

Albert Pike

There is besides of the herion trade, nothing to win there for the US. If they kill some Taliban when they leave their caves – then Afghanistan will breed fresh ones. So nothing will change…

Shia man

It was supposed to be a ceasefire deal between them
The US shows time and time again that they can’t honor an agreement.

Albert Pike

Well it’s USraHell – what do you expect…

Mustafa Mehmet

You mad moron

Shia man

Look here punk i simply pointed out the fact US doesn’t honor any agreement it makes. Freaking pathetic animal.

Mustafa Mehmet

Still dick head moron punk

Shia man

And your still the filthy of the earth.

Arch Bungle

You must be a turk ….

Codenamed 'Gordon'

Obombo got a Nobel Peace Price for unleashing hell in Syria…

Shia man

The Syrian Observatory: At least 150 new Turkish military vehicles entered Syria since Thursday evening

cactus

smh … the only possible solution for this sh*t show is to break the neck of turkey in idlib…russia need to chose between terrorism or economic relations …this two faced agreements will never work…i don’t understand how russia sais terrorists will still be bombed everyone knows that bombing alone is not enough you need troops on the ground ….

gustavo

Russia has chosen economical interest with Turkey, and fighting terrorists by bombing whenever they are boring, or whenever terrorists attack their air basis.

Codenamed 'Gordon'

As usual. For the umpteenth time here we have a ceasefire is only useful for strengthening terrorists and Turkish invaders: as soon as they receive the promised weapons supplies by USnakes the hostilities will resume.

Jean de Peyrelongue

I hope that you are right. Conditions have to be made to allow Syria to get out of that nightmare and start rebuilding the country with the help of the countries belonging to the “Silk Road”

Shia man

A Turkish military convoy entered from the Kafr Lossin border crossing point towards the Idlib governorate

gustavo

Was this part of the agreement with Russia ? WoW ! is Putin still pleasing Erdogan ?

Shia man

I don’t know only time will tell.

SnowCatzor

I have to agree with you, peace is simply not realistic with these Jihadi’s. They’re zealous fanatics who’ll never accept anything less than a total Islamic State under Sharia law. The diplomats can talk of peace to the cameras, but in reality both sides are making plans for future conflict.

Luckily, Syria has the military advantage as long as Russia, Iran and Hezbollah remain committed to it.

And Erdogan definitely has to go if Turkey is to stop being so belligerent to everyone, the guy’s a deranged warmonger with an obsession for creating a hard-line Islamist society everywhere he can.

gustavo

This is just propaganda, there will not have peace until USA-Israel-NATO (TUrkey) stop supporting terrorism in the middle east.

Rhodium 10

I read in an Iranian newspaper that Turkey -Russia relations are only to preserve economic interests….but Turkey is above all a NATO member that maintains ties with Israel( Diplomatic and economics)… also there is an important US military base with nukes (Incirlik)..beside some NATO troops deployed!…for other side Turkey receive financial aid from some Gulf states ..beside that Gulf countries support suni islamic terrorism and seek to remove Assad and expel Russian&Iranian…therefore Erdogan&Turkey can never be a reliable ally of Russia!..

yep

And Russia knows very well that Turds & Erdocunt can’t be trusted allay (Russia had 16 wars against Turkey in the past )
But they must try to work with the Turkey since Turds are important neighboring country with the influence over the Sunni population in Syria.
With their support it is really possible to return lasting peace to Syria.
The only question is ; will they ever accept to do that properly?
Or they will only try to rip off benefits through perfidy and aggression…

Kananda

but mostly russia attacked turkey ;)

gustavo

Are you telling that Turkey will give back Afrin, north-Euphrates river, and Idlib to Syria ? Not way to have peace as far as USA-Israel-Turkey stop supporting terrorists and leave Syria for good.

yep

One thing at the time.
Willing or not supporters of terrorism will be defeated also and Syria will be free.

Kananda

i see, you are not able to accept the reality :)

russia was an imperial power. colonists. only in their case the colonies were in the neighborhood. ural, finland, kola, siberia, caucasus, central asia, far east, kamchatka, sakhalin, alaska.

part of colonies has lost, but russia was always an agressive, expansive country. ;)

cechas vodobenikov

not true obviously—Russian/turkish relations regard geopolitical conditions more than trade—it is true that economically, turkey relies on Russian tourism and discounted natural gas but I doubt that this is most significant. I not aware of any significant aid that turkey receives from Gulf nations…turkey has offered Qatar military assistance pertaining to conflict w SA. Iran has also assisted Qatar in this regard. turkey receives financial assistance from the EU, ostensibly to reduce refugee influx to Europe. I believe that incirklik is NATO, not USA, although US troops r stationed there…except for Qatar I am not aware of any Arab nation that turkey can call an ally

gustavo

Exactly, this is what I have been saying for years, but Putin pleasing Erdogan all the time (invasion to Afrin, invasion to north Euphrates river, smuggling oil, industrial parts, and cultural arts from Syria, supporting terrorists who are attacking Russia air basis all the time, giving advance weapons to terrorists, and all of this in agreement with USA-Israel-NATO).

Caesar

“This war is not over and it won’t be until Erdogan is removed from power.”
I agree with The Saker that this deranged islamist corrupt warmonger has to be removed from power, preferably by the electors of Turkey.
According to the reliable opinion polls in Turkey his approval ratings continue eroding particuliarly during the last 16 – 18 months, from 51% to around 40%.

yep

As long as we keep in mind that in life sometimes can something bad arrive from friend and something good from an enemy.It would be much wiser that Russia keeps fishing for that arrangement that would be acceptable both to Erdogan and Assad.

Mustafa Mehmet

Once assad and Erdoğan and Molla and hesbullocks and russki and Yankee and rest terrorists group… then peace will come Syria insallah

Lone Ranger

Turkey go home…

cechas vodobenikov

ultimately neighbors seek accommodation or allies to rebalance conditions. turkey benefits little by increasing conflict w Syria and its allies. these conflicts r not intractable, unlike some conflicts that appear to be insoluble…i.e., Israel/Palestine, Armenia/Azerbijian, Haiti/DR, etc….I am not convinced that Erdogan is the central problem—ultimately he must relent to pragmatic realities…waning popularity reflected by his repudiation in the recent election ofhe opposition in Istanbul ….his recent miscalculations r now observed to have been failures…of course, one must recognize failures to learn from mistakes. the future will reveal whether the Turkish political class has recognized theirs

Joe Doe

I agree with the article. Russia needs show more forceful stands to defend SYria, but also Russia needs supply SAA with more modern weapons, such as Air Defence and Airplanes, including attack helicopters. Syria has shown that is Russia best allies in the region. Therefore, Russia needs to alot more for Syria

Mustafa Mehmet

They did but saa doob don’t know how use it… Türk keep shothing down with drone not even fighter jet

Wahid Algiers

The turdy türküs now feeling like a punished nasty little school boy in his school uniform, none of these pussies is actually writing here.

klove and light

ty ty southfront spotn on the conclusion……i Quote from the above article:

“I don’t believe that peace is possible between a secular Syria and a Takfiri-backing Turkey. And I sure don’t believe that the Takfiris can be remolded into any kind of “democratic opposition”. Thus the real end-goal for Russia and Syria will always be military victory, not “peace” (assuming that concept of “peace with the Takfiris” makes any sense at all, which it doesn’t). The Russians know that, even if they won’t admit it.”

spot on

good american

Still nothing good to say about Putin?

Covadonga

The illiterate Anatolian scum will always vote for Erdogan and the Rumelians (who turn into Anatolians after the second Raki) don’t have the numbers to get rid of him.
If the EU weren’t such absolute fucking arseholes they might help by basically disowning Turkey but I’m sure Erdogan threatens them every day with the prospect of the millions of anatolian scum in European countries starting a civil war so they’re always going to give in to his blackmail.

nyomarek

Congratulations! WOW, Meister Saker has outdone himself in this latest one if his.

seawolf

This is a well articulated article !

gustavo

Very good article.

goingbrokes

“This war is not over until Erdo is removed from power.”
This is too negative for me. It’s like the talk about Saddam, it was better to remove him! Was it? I’m not so sure.
Once the takfiris are destroyed they don’t need to be friends, just not shooting at each other would be a good start. Turks need to wake up to the Donmehs and the MBs and other restrictive groups trying to exploit the turkish population and steer the country to nefarious paths.

S Melanson

This article by the Saker is well done.

Note that waiting for the Post-Erdogan Turkey does not imply in any way advocacy for foreign intervention in Turkey politics to achieve regime change – which Turkey is guilty of in Syria. Well if Erdogan did not like the coup backed by the CIA, he should then know how Assad feels about Turkey’s role in backing terrorists to overthrow Assad.

Erdogan also does not like having millions of refugees on Turkish soil, well boo hoo hoo. Maybe it was not a good idea to back regime change using jihadist proxies that turned Syria into one big war zone – what do you know, lots of refugees Fleeing the war zone… go figure.

Lastly, I have commented Turkey, if willing to go all in, could overwhelm and overrun Syria. But to have the willpower is conditional on Russia stepping out of the way which Erdogan was demanding. Well Russia responded with actions not words – bombing Turkish troops – Putin May have thought Erdogan said ‘Russia needs to get Turkish troops out of the way!’

I am glad Russia stood by Syria, standing shoulder to shoulder with Hezbollah and Iran. Together they have Assad’s back covered and the world has been shown the consequences of messing with Syria. Hopefully, this will continue to be the case going forward. I think important lessons have been learned which is to stay true to your allies.

United we stand, divided we fall…

MH370

SAA gaining turkroaches draining ;)

El Mashi

Turkey has better relations with Zionist Israel than with Secular Syria. That tells you everything.

TTdr

” I hope that Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq will continue to work together, hopefully with Chinese aid, to create such a Syria.”

Well, China just sign an agreement to provide aid to Syria few days ago even in COVID crisis. Oil price plunged by Saudi will squeeze Russia finance. Iran will be triple squeezed by USNato sanction, oil price & COVID outbreak.

The only beneficiary is Israel & US stealing Syria & Iraq oil, while everyone brawls & bleeds. When ME weakened, Israel will steal more lands in Golan Hts, Palestinian, ..their offshore oils, all without resistance.

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