By Batko Milacic for the Saker Blog
While the whole world was distracted by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and wondered whether China would follow Moscow’s example and try to “reintegrate” Taiwan, Ankara, a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, violated Syria’s sovereignty again. Turkish President Erdogan has repeatedly ignored the independent status of the neighboring country, and is now poised to occupy part of Syria’s northern provinces, supposedly in a bid to establish a “Security Zone.” However, despite Ankara’s undisguised pressure on its NATO allies, chances are high that it will get away with it.
How do Turkey’s actions in Syria differ from what Russia is doing in Ukraine? Well, actually in nothing. Moreover, de jure, Russia’s operation in Ukraine is more justified. Moscow recognized the rebellious republics of Donbass, negotiated with Zelensky, demanding fairly justified concessions from him and only after seeing all its demands ignored by Kiev, finally sent in troops. Erdogan’s decision to launch a new “peacekeeping” operation in Syria largely came as a surprise, even though Turkey has certainly had problems with Kurdish separatists for many years now. The Turkish operation is to create a security zone, that is, to seize Syrian land 30 kilometers deep into the country’s territory. In fact, Ankara wants to achieve a decisive victory over the Kurdish rebels, regardless of the fact that they enjoy the direct support from the United States. At the same time, Erdogan made his agreement to Sweden’s and Finland’s acceptance to NATO conditional on their recognition of the Kurdish liberation movements as terrorist organizations. After Stockholm and Helsinki flatly refused to, Erdogan decided to demonstrate his determination to the world, knowing full well that, unlike Moscow, he would go unpunished.
As a result, Turkey, unfazed by a weak and useless condemnation from the UN, went on to destroy Kurdish militia units in a foreign country. As for Damascus, it officially recognizes the Kurdish autonomy and does not consider the Kurdish forces as a terrorist organization. The Kurds are neither diehard fanatics, not terrorists. In fact, deprived of statehood for 100 years, they want one thing – their own country. And this demand is by no means unfair, especially in view of the people’s UN-declared right to self-determination. By the way, it is exactly for this right and against the actual genocide of the ethnic Russians that the Russian army is fighting in Ukraine. And still, Moscow has been slapped with a pile of hard-hitting sanctions, while Kiev receives huge shipments of free weapons to fight Russian aggression! Meanwhile, the assistance that the Kurds are getting from the United States has recently been shrinking, making them virtually incapable of resisting the Turkish army. At the same time, the Turks, de facto, consider all Kurds as terrorists and are all set to simply “cleanse” the security zone from their presence.
Will any measures be taken against Turkey? Naturally not. It will retain its NATO membership, feeling free to kill thousands of people on the territory of a neighboring country and block the Swedes’ and Finns’ desire to join the alliance until they bend under its demands. At the same time, with Russia, a loyal ally of Syria, having its hands full with the military operation in Ukraine, Ankara’s appetites may go through the roof. Neither should we forget about northern Iraq, where Kurds also live and there is no one to stop Erdogan. So, exactly what else Turkey is going to do under the guise of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict remains anyone’s guess.
Turkey has nothing to do in Syria. All its excuses are out of place.
While I’m not condoning for a moment Erdogan’s arrogance of occupying territory of a neighboring country, Syria, be careful what you wish for.
Its well known in geopolitical circles that Kurdistan is a deliberate attempt to establish “a secong Israel in the region”
If it succeeds Syria, Lebanon and finally Jordan will find themselves having to defend themselves on two-fronts in the centuries-long Greater Israel Project, aka Eretz Y’israel.
And then we will need to consider how an established Kurdistan will disrupt energy pipelines from Iran & Iraq to S. Europe and the implications that it, Kurdistan, will have for China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).
Well said. We live in bizarre times when Erdogan has assumed a mien of sanity, lucidity and statesmanship vis-a-vis his NATO colleagues. The Sultan of Swing is in high demand by both Zones. He may additionally be a useful proxy to help evict US bases in Syria.. without Kurd fig leaves, his forces temporarily take over.
The Kurds are a complicated and treacherous squabbling disparate groups. They appear to fight each other as much as their neighbors. It is exactly as you said, they were planned to be a northern Israel to fracture and corral Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Once these 4 saw the northern fly Zone and Ralph Peters infamous map, they worked to contain the Kurds, especially during the Soleimani days. Biden had been a point man working towards the disintegration and dismemberment of Iraq for decades, using the Barzani clan of northern Iraq as key proxy. However Turkey has not kept its eye on the ball, harming itself repeatedly, as arms it helped flood into Syria found their way to Kurds looking for independence in Turkey.. like Europe now flooding Ukie arms indirectly to itself, both seek to expand the wars they sparked outwards in order to avert civil wars or chaos internally. So Turkey and Europe, both played by Empire, are desperate and with limited room for maneuver. Perhaps Erdogan knows something of the same panic he notes in Europeans!
Here was an interesting 2017 Saker discussion on Kurdistan.
Cosimo nails what I have read in last 20 years of the key malign Kurd subgroup, the northern Iraqi Barzani gangster clan, “The real issue is that Kurds allowed themselves to submit to Israel during their darkest hours in the early 1970’s, and this submission has never gone away… the whole tragedy flows from the sad fact that the Kurds in Iraq have a leadership that works hand-in-glove with outside powers.”
Turkey occupies part of Syria to thief oil, just like Israel and USA is protecting Kurds and doing the same thing with oil and other commodities.
Erdogan has 73% inflation and the failed coup by USA was disrupted by information that Russia gave him. But Erdogan is not a friend of Russia, most of his people are. He is an all weather friend and blows with the wind.
He buys S400s from Russia and now buying F-16s from America playing both sides. He was elected as a Muslim but betrays them time and time again. However, the opposition is much worse, completely Western controlled.
The west will probably bow to his demands on Kurdish extremists in the Baltics. They are getting desperate for a win. Russia who defended Syria from them all, will deal with all of them when the time is right.
Jordan and places like Morocco and Qatar; full puppets of the West will go the way of the West. Lebanon’s Hezbollah beat the living shit out of Israel’s very last ground invasion and America was bombed out previously under Regan.
Ukraine is only the start of Russia’s reply to Western hegemony, but based on repeated attacks on their sovereignty; this time it will be the last.
It is all about missiles!
Turkiye has become a regional power. It’s is even in a position to play Russia against EU and US. And the EU and US against Russia.
That’s a fact if you like it or not. Turkiye is one of the great winners of the disruption of the Soviet Union.
Turkiye managed to found the “organization of Turkic states”.
I quote the Russian Wikipedia
On October 30, 1992, on the initiative of the then President of the Republic of Turkey Turgut Özal, the first “Summit of Turkic-Speaking States” was held in Ankara, which was attended by Turgut Ozal, Abulfaz Elchibey, Islam Karimov, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Saparmurat Niyazov and Askar Akayev . At that summit, participants announced the establishment of political and economic unity. On July 12, 1993, in the then capital of Kazakhstan, Alma-Ata, an agreement was signed on the establishment of the International Organization of Turkic Culture.
In addition, in 1992, the United Administration of Turkic Arts and Languages was established in Alma-Ata, and in 1998 the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-Speaking Countries was established in Baku. Both organizations are under the auspices of the Turkic Council. In the near future, Turkmenistan and Hungary may join the Turkic Council.
The second summit of the heads of Turkic-speaking states was convened on October 18, 1994 in Istanbul. The summit was attended by the first persons of the Turkic states. Participants observed a minute of silence from President Turgut Özal, who died a year ago. The work of the summit was accompanied by mutual polemics between the Russian and Turkish sides. At the summit, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev came up with the idea of organizing the Eurasian Economic Union with the participation of the countries of Eastern Europe and China.
The third meeting of the heads of Turkic states was held on August 28, 1995 in Bishkek. The summit was timed to coincide with the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the Kyrgyz epic “Manas”. President of Kyrgyzstan Akayev presented the Heads of State with six unique handmade carpets woven in honor of the Great Carpet of Presidents summit. Opening the work of the summit, President of Kyrgyzstan Akayev noted that the Turkic republics after a long isolation should restore mutually beneficial ties and strengthen cooperation. At the Bishkek summit, Turkish President S. Demirel noted that for Turkey, the project of building a highway connecting Central Asia with Turkey seems to be a priority in terms of exporting the rich resources of this region to world markets through Turkey.
On December 24, 2014, the first regional diaspora representative office of the Turkic Council was opened in the office of the United Diaspora of Azerbaijanis of Ukraine in Kyiv. Hikmet Javadov was elected as the main coordinator.
The council’s summit in Bodrum, which was held in 2014, was attended by representatives of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, as well as Turkmenistan. Then it was announced that Turkmenistan would join the council.
On April 30, 2018, Uzbekistan officially became a member of the Turkic Council.
The VII Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States was held in Baku in October 2019, which was attended by President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov, Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, former President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
In April 2020, at the initiative of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, an extraordinary summit of the Turkic Council dedicated to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic was held in the format of a videoconference.
Talk of creating an international political organization that would unite independent Turkic states has been going on since the 1990s. Active work on the creation of such an organization began in the mid-2000s with the active participation of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. On October 3, 2009, in the Azerbaijani city of Nakhichevan, the “Nakhichevan Agreement” was signed between the presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, according to which the international organization “Turkic Council” was officially created. Thus, the organization included 4 out of 6 Turkic states. Turkmenistan, led by Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, refused membership, pointing to its neutral status recognized by the UN, and the second most populous Turkic country, Uzbekistan, led by Islam Karimov, completely ignored the organization because of the very cold relations with Turkey since the mid-1990s.
The organization was established on October 3, 2009 by the Nakhchivan Agreement signed between Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. According to Khalil Akinci, the founding secretary general of the organization, “the Turkic Council became the first voluntary union of Turkic states in history.”
In 2012, the flag of the Turkic Council was adopted.
On April 30, 2018, it was announced that Uzbekistan would join the Turkic Council and take part in the organization’s upcoming summit in Bishkek.  She officially applied for membership on September 12, 2019.
Since the end of 2018, Hungary has been an observer and can request full membership. In 2020, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar said Ukraine wanted to be an observer.
On November 12, 2021, at the VIII Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States in Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Turkic Council was renamed the Organization of Turkic States. At the same summit, Turkmenistan was admitted to membership in the Organization of Turkic States in the status of an observer.
On April 27, 2022, the Council of Constitutional Courts of the organization was established.
According to the English Wikipedia Hungary has become an Observer State in 2018
The Hungarian language has grammatical similarities with the Turc-Altai languages.
Moreover, a large part of Hungary belonged to the Ottoman Empire for 150 years.
All good detail, but the Turkic linguistic/cultural/religion collection of nations will be absorbed into China’s BRI from the East and Russia’s EaEU from the West.
It’s amazing how improved living standards can help focus the mind. Putin lifting 46million Ruskies our of poverty over the last ~20years & China lifting 800million+ people out of poverty over the last ~40 years will be duplicated based on trade to mutual (rather than the West’s Zero-Sum game where the West win by how much the Global South loses) all through Central Asia – all the way to eastern Europe.
And that’s where Hungary comes in to picture to play its role. In the meantime the EU will continue to fracture which allows Russia & China to deal with independent nations – without the constraints imposed by the undemocratic European Central Bank (ECB) and the undemocratic European Commission (EC).
Kurdish people are unfortunate historically because Kurdish Tribal Chiefs too often choose wrong side in the larger wars .First Kurdish national identity are deeply fragmented -group of languages etc. So they are often victims of manipulation by Big Powers. In this time Kurdish people are satellites, proxies of USA and Israel. That is their misfortune.
First, as long as Syria, Turkey, Irak and Iran are not destroyed by someone, there won’t be any Kurdish state.
Maybe some autonomy but never ever anything else. They don’t even agree between themselves, how could they obtain anything from four different nations ?
Second, you are missing/forgetting something VERY important about Turkey and Erdogan.
There will be elections in Turkey next year and he is in absolutely no position to win again.
His attempt to “do something” in Syria is nothing but an attempt to convince the Turks that he is their “natural leader” (who doesn’t support his leader in times of war ?) and that they should let him run the country for a few more years.
Reply to tranquilocomp
Georgie Porgie Puddin and Pie
Kissed the girls and made them cry
When the boys came out to play
Georgie Porgie ran away
Russia has a plan for Turkey!
Assad too, for sure.
Whatever that means but yes there is a plan.
Russian people remember very well the list of Turkey backstabbing Russia.
Erdogan pursues his Ottoman fantasy of regaining lost lands. “A sideshow in a sideshow”…
Erdogan is a certified megalomaniac (like all other past tyrants) who very probably doesn’t pay attention to professional advise, if any.
Syria has a defense pact with Russia, and sure as daylight follows night, the Russians will intervene very soon. Russia did not intervene in Syria in 2016 to rout Turkey/US/Israeli/NATO sponsored terrorists just to see Erdogan trash all that by undermining a rapidly recovering Syria with a territorial land grab.
Far from being pre-occupied with the Ukraine war where the Russians are using just 100,000 of their 1.2 million man standing army backed by 2 million reserves, the Russians are perfectly capable of re-intervening in Syria even now to thwart Erdogan’s megalomaniacal designs on Syrian sovereignty. I wouldn’t be surprised if Erdogan is working with the Americans in his latest adventure in a typical harebrained attempt to distract Russia and their activities in Ukraine.
However, Putin the political chess grandmaster, can walk the stairs and chew gum at the same time, and he’ll deal with Erdogan, this time permanently, in a move we won’t see coming.
Kurdistan is a pure Western colonial divide and conquer project. The Kurds are nomads and not natural born into an artificial independent state.
So Erdogan has some reasons to demand a security belt against US/France/UK/EU’s fumbling around “saw division” project in the triangle between Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran.
Turkey has a significant role to play in the Black Sea, and Russia need it to be at least neutral for the time being. Erdogan is taking the opportunity for a quid pro quo. I expect Assad has been told to let this happen.