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Turkey Just Sold Its Proxies In Syria’s Idlib For Russian Restraint In Libya

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On December 23, a Turkish delegation visited Moscow for talks on the situation in Syria and Libya. The visit took palce as the Syrian Army was advancing on positions of militant groups, including Turkish-backed ones, in Syria’s Greater Idlib, and Turkey was increasing its military support to the pro-Turkish Government of National Accord in Libya.

The formal pretext for a visit was recent setbacks of pro-Turkish militants in Syria. Since the start of the army advance on December 19, al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (that have contacts with Turkish intelligence) and the National Front for Liberation (funded and created by Turkey) had lost up to 30 villages and towns and became on the edge of surrendering of Maarat al-Numan, the key urban center in Greater Idlib.

Turkey Just Sold Its Proxies In Syria's Idlib For Russian Restraint In Libya

Click to see the full-size image

On December 22, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that his country cannot handle a new wave of refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria’s Idlib. (Unfortunately, the Turkish president did not explain how his country was handling the Idlib terrorist hub just near its border)

“Turkey cannot handle a new refugee wave from Syria,” Erdogan said claiming that over 80,000 people from Idlib had fled to areas near the Turkish border.

Erdogan also sent a warning to the European Union claiming that if the flow increased, “Turkey will not carry this migration burden alone”. He added that the “negative effects” will be “felt by all European countries, especially Greece”. He compared this with the experience and scenes before the Turkey-European Union migration deal signed in 2016. Earlier, the Turkish presient claimed that Anakra received not all of 6.6 billion EUR promised to it in exchange for stronger controls on refugees leaving its territory for Europe. Ankara claims Turkey is home to around five million refugees, among which 3.7 million are Syrians.

So, Turkey used the Idlib advance in order to intensify talks with Russia on the situations in Syria and Libya, and to pressure the European Union for its own favour. Turkey did not provide extensive details on results of its December 23 talks with the Russian side. Formal statements by the sides indicate that they have reached a kind of understanding and declared their commitment to the further cooperation. On the same day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a phone converstation discussing recent developments in Syria and Libya.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s “Press release on Russia-Turkey expert-level consultations on Libya“:

“On December 23, the Foreign Ministry hosted Russia-Turkey expert-level consultations on Libya. The Russian interdepartmental delegation was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov; the Turkish delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Turkey Sedat Onal.

After an exchange of views, the sides at the meeting agreed to continue contacts on the Libyan agenda, including with regard to a possibility of providing support to a speedy settlement of the crisis in the country.”

Additionally, it should be noted that Turkish top officials demonstrated a surprising moderation and made almost now harsh or loud statements regarding the Syrian Army operation in Idlib. During all the previous operations by the Damascus government and its allies, Turkish top officials made multiple statements and comments blaiming and shaming the “regime”, Iran and Russia for supposed civilian casualties and violations of the agreements. Turkish media outlets also limited their hate-speech and accusations towards the “Assad regime”. So, their current coverage of and accusations against actions the Syrian Army remained on the level observed before December 19. Even the Turkish observation post in Surman, which was surrounded  by Syrian Army troops, is out of the Turkish mainstream agenda. Furthermore, the Turkish military did not try to deploy more troops in Idlib in order to stop the Syrian Army advance.

At the same time, the situation in northeastern Syria, where Russia and Turkey reached a ‘safe zone’ agreement also remains stable with no major clashes or incidents being reported in the area. This demonstrates a tactical success in the Turkish-Russian efforts to settle the situation there, despite the existing contradictions.

Turkey Just Sold Its Proxies In Syria's Idlib For Russian Restraint In Libya

Click to see the full-size image

Therefore, one can assume the format of the new Turkish-Russian deal on Syria and Lbya. Over the past years, Idlib militant groups (first of all Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies) have been resisting Turkish attempts to impose a full control of them. The militants’ leadership wanted to keep at least a semi-independence in order to gain more funds from various sources and secure their future if Ankara decides to abandon them. Nonetheless, the strengthening Turkish-Russian cooperation in the region revealed several gaps in this approach. The Turkish leadership has apparently decided to sell its junior partners in Idlib in order to achieve its strategic goals.

By indirectly allowing the Syrian Army, Turkey will improve its relations with Russia even further and open a corridor for a possible political solution of the conflict in the existing formats involving Ankara, Moscow, Tehran and Damascus. This solution was not possible while the terrorists were the main power in the “opposition-held part” of Idlib.

As to Libya, Ankara and Moscow apaprently agreed to “continue contacts on the Libyan agenda, including with regard to a possibility of providing support to a speedy settlement of the crisis in the country”. In other words, the sides established a de-escalation channel in Libya. In this conflict, Turkey supports the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) that just signed with Ankara a controlversial deal on the shared maritime zone and a military cooperation agreement. The GNA’s main rival is the Libyan National Army (LNA) that controls most of the country. The LNA receives support from Egypt, the UAE and Russia. For example, President Erdogan recently mentioned “Russian mecrenaries” that support the LNA operation to capture Tripoli. Turkey sees its influence in Libya and the existance of the maritime zone memorandum with the GNA as vital factors to secure its interests in Eastern Mediterranean. The possible conflict with Russia over the situation in Libya does not contribute to this goals. So, Ankara likely opted to sell its proxies in Syria’s Idlib for Russia’s restraint towards Turkish actions in Libya.

Turkey Just Sold Its Proxies In Syria's Idlib For Russian Restraint In Libya

Click to see the full-size image

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  • MADE MAKER

    Turkey wants Libya OIL

    • d’Artagnan

      100% correct also gas. Libyan crude is very low sulfur good quality and the Mediterranean gas fields have big reserves. The whole idea for NATO killing Kaddafi was to turn Libya into a gas station for the west like Saudi Arabia, but events on the ground now tell a different story. Turkey and Egypt are both hungry for Libyan oil and this is about to get very messy with NATO now like a chicken in wolf’s sights as it does not know how to react if Erdogan really invades Libya.

      • verner

        libyan crude with api in excess of say 45 is called cadillac crudes

      • Tommy Jensen

        Plus Russia and China also involved. Its the usual hyenas feast.

  • d’Artagnan

    Turkey had very limited choices in Syria as its proxy headchoppers proved too weak, corrupt and inept and in any case Russia and Iran have invested heavily in Syria are not about to let it fall. Libya on the other hand is fair game for all and Russia would prefer Turkish hold there rather than UAE, Saudi or even Egyptian control. It will be interesting to see if Erdogan really gets involved in Libya considering the logistics of a very messy conflict with supply lines extending over 1300 kms. The Libyan bog is another problem for NATO if Turkey its second largest cannon fodder provider invades.

    • Assad must stay (gr8rambino)

      I agree, I think this is going to be turkeys downfall, constantly getting itself involved in other countries, first syria which isn’t going too well for them, now libya

      • Jaime

        I also hope that if Turkey invades Libya, it will become a quagmire. If they lose there, they will lose in Syria too. And if that happens, the Turkish military will grow a spine and may crush Erdogan and his thugs.

  • JoeAlpha

    No problem, you sell in Syria, we buy, in Libya later it will be the same, you sell again and we will buy again. We will buy all the terrorists until you have nothing left to sell. Then we will send all the terrorists you sell to us to the hell full of 72 virgin goats. Let’s trade.

    • Jimmy Jim

      is that the view from Kikerstan?

    • northerntruthseeker .

      WHY does this one smell of Hasbara/JIDF scum?

  • Keep it Real

    Bullshit Turkeys Erdogan was too greedy and his army supplies are limited!

    • d’Artagnan

      Erdogan is not a very educated man and is erratic to begin with. Turkish military has been decimated by loyalty purges and Turkey is beset with internal problems with Kurds and other religious and ethnic groups. Turkey in its initial support for Wahhabi terrorism in Syria totally misread the reaction of Russia and Iran which would have never allowed Dr. Assad’s legitimate government to fall. The Iranians sent their tactical mastermind General Soleimani to Moscow in 2015 to underscore the importance of Syria and Putin then initiated the Russian airstrikes via Iranian airspace. It is fair to say that Turkey has totally failed in Syria and will be hard pressed to do much in Libya, considering the logistical nightmare if Egypt intervenes. Egypt has a better military and navy than Turkey.

      • BMWA1

        Very good

  • xTheWarrior22

    Erdo was scared of his master Putin, therefore he sold his Jihadi proxies.

  • Assad must stay (gr8rambino)

    This sounds like a good deal if egypt or some other country can pick up the slack to stave off torki influence in libya

  • Tommy Jensen

    America won again.

    • Andrei

      What???
      They never won a war in our history..
      America??? Are you laughable….??!!!
      Haha haha …

      • Tommy Jensen

        It only costed USA around 6000 soldiers overseas the last 18 years.
        In compensation we got foothold on Chinas OBOR and hold of 9000t heroine in Afghan.

        In Iraq we got a strategic transport corridor for the heroine first to Iran and then to China and US, plus we got controle of Iraq oil and destroyed Iraqs agriculture to GMO and got US bases near Iran border for the next invasion war…….……..LOL.

        As I said, we won!

        • Andrei

          You didn’t won anything
          You just proved how evil and satanic and no morality America Government have .
          And now you told us all, what faces America have.
          Shame on you..

        • AJ

          I dont call spending 6 trillion on wars since 9/11 winning except for the arms makers, US taxpayer has lost big time

        • verner

          sure maybe a win for the us military if they can sell the opium, the refined opium and set it off the actual costs of being in far away places waging unwinnable wars. but I doubt the 9000 tonnes of opium converts to more than a quite a few billiion bucks on the street, pocket change or chicken feed in the greater picture however. so the unhinged states of A’s wars are losing propositions and the ones being screwed, royally, is the american taxpayers. but the opium is a way to reduce the overheads.

        • Black Waters

          “We” There’s no “We” in the U.S, but “They”, and the U.S are starting to suffer the consequences.

        • Peter Jennings

          It only cost 6000 soldiers? !!

          As with all third world countries, life must be cheap in america.

  • Hasbara Hunter
  • Willing Conscience (The Truths

    Mmmm, very interesting, here’s some other reasons Turkey wants to get a foothold in Libya,

    “Turkey has boosted military aid to allies in Libya, but the maritime deal that comes with it has inflamed Mediterranean geopolitics. Greece and Egypt were among those to voice vehement objections.”
    https://www.dw.com/en/turkey-libya-maritime-deal-triggers-mediterranean-tensions/a-51477783

    Up until now Turkey hasn’t had too much influence over the officially recognized Libyan government the GNA, Russia’s had way more influence over the officially unrecognized government it supports the LNA, but that’s about to change now if this is true, Turkey will gain influence over the GNA and Russia will lose influence over the LNA, and I’m finding it hard to believe Putin’s agreed to this.
    Russia doesn’t want the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya but Turkey does, which means the fundamentalist Islamic fanatics take control of Libya if the GNA wins out.
    Russia’s side was winning the war against the UN/US/Turkish backed side but this agreement will now possibly help Turkey introduce a de-escalation agreement to end the hostilities, what for, Russia’s side was winning. Hopefully Putin pays him back by making this new agreement work just as well as all the previous 14 Astana agreements they made for Idlib did, DIDN’T.

  • Dušan Mirić

    Interesting way of speculations. A few months ago I received an article from Croatia’s Index.hr about general Haftar as Russian asset (because a photo with a Russian winter hat on) while he is CIA’s asset for decades (since general Haftar was captured during Libya’s adventure in Chad). Is it just yet another “oink by a US vassal”? Is it another smoke screen to hide struggle of the USA Turkey in Libiya?

  • Mehmet Aslanak

    Turkey sold jihadists & headchoppers long ago in 2014, south Idlib has full of them.
    However Turkey continues to support SNA opposition parties umbrella.

  • “Nice continent you got there. Shame if something were to happen to it…”