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Russian and Turkish aims in Syria

Reader comment on item: Two Bullies, Putin and Erdo─čan, Try Friendship

Submitted by Michael S, Dec 23, 2016 at 16:19

I believe both Erdogan and Putin are pathological liars; so I am interested primarily on what they DO on the ground. As things stand there, Russia and allies have taken Syria's largest city, Aleppo; while the Turks have been free to attack ISIS and the Syrian Kurds. The latest situation map (Dec. 23, 2116) is:


The yellow areas are blatantly pro-Turkish Free Syrian Army and Al-Nusra (Al Qaeda)- controlled. The two most important of these areas are that northeast of Aleppo (focussing on ISIS-controlled Al-Bab) and a much larger area west of Aleppo. Note that both areas border Turkey, so FSA and Al Qaeda terrorists are free to come and go into our NATO ally. In the eastern zone, Turkey actually has troops and armor on the ground in large numbers. So far, Russia has allowed Turkish advances in that zone, while it bombs and pursues the Turkish-backed rebels west of Aleppo.

What should we expect now, after Aleppo has fallen to the Syrians and Russians? I expect them to continue to hammer the Turkish-backed rebels to the west, around Idlib. Turkey endures this degradation because:

1. Russia is more powerful than Turkey, and
2. Erdogan appears more interested in denying the Kurds (purple on the map) a contiguous state, than in helping his anti-Assad rebels.

If Russia and Assad continue cleaning out Turkish-backed rebels from around Idlib, what can we expect from Turkey? I expect that they will continue against Al-Bab and, if the Russians are amenable to it, continue on towards Raqqa. There, they would contend with the Kurds, who are also advancing on Raqqa. If this is allowed to go on, the Turks would gain most of the lands captured from ISIS while Assad and his allies consolidate their gains in NW Syria.

All these maneuvers will take time -- certainly more than the 29 days remaining until Donald Trump assumes the Presidency. After that date, it is Donald Trump, not Erdogan or Putin, who will call the shots. I don't know where he will call them.


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