BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI
Whenever Ankara makes a contrary statement to Russia on the Crimea issue, Moscow reacts unexpectedly. Now, it’s happened again.
“The Russians have collapsed in the Crimea,” President Erdogan said when returning from his Albanian visit.
Moscow’s reaction came through Syria. Oleg Juravlyov, one of the spokespeople of the Russian military in Syria, said, “The terrorist groups in Idlib are preparing for an attack on Tartus and Latakia.”
These words from the Russian official show that a new, troublesome period is coming for Idlib, which was left to Turkey to “clear out terrorists” as part of the Astana agreement. Idlib, where Turkish soldiers work at established security points, is surrounded by Assad regime soldiers. The expectation that there will be a new operation by the Assad army and Russian air force in the region has increased. In the Russian air attack on Idlib on January 2, many key targets, including the city’s water distribution network, were destroyed.
In any operation against Idlib, Turkish soldiers serving in the region may be in great danger. On February 27, 2020, in the Russian air campaign against Idlib, Turkey lost many of the soldiers serving in the region.
HTS Terrorists made a show of force
The interesting thing is that Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which is the dominant power in the region, is making a show of force as the Assad siege against Idlib and the Russian threats continue.
HTS is considered a terrorist organization per the United Nations Resolution. Turkey has officially accepted this designation. However, despite the organization’s designation as “terrorist,” it is remarkable that roads are being built and “launched” in Idlib.
So much so that according to news in the Arab press, HTS leader El Golani, who has a price on his head by the US, attended the “opening ceremony” of a highway connecting Aleppo to the Bay El Hava Turkish border crossing on January 7th.
In the photo published on Al-Monitor’s website, the outfit chosen by ASl-Golani, who left Al-Qaeda and founded HTS, is notable. The terrorist leader, who preferred traditional clothes while leading his terrorist troupes, appeared at the ceremony in a Western-style jacket and trousers. The attention to “messaging” here is very obvious.
Proxy wars in Idlib…
Seeing that the West and Russia are facing each other in Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina, HTS is obviously trying to approach the West to work against the Russian threat, though it is officially still seen as a terrorist organization.
Considering the recent history of Western countries’ support for terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, this isn’t surprising at all.
Western support for the PYD-YPG, the Syrian extension of the PKK terrorist organization, which is on the terrorism lists of both the US and the EU, os known. The HTS terrorist organization may be hoping that some of the trucks loaded with weapons and ammunition that go to the PYD-YPG east of the Euphrates will be sent to Idlib.
That is where the real questions arise.
Who build the highway said to have been “opened” by the ringleader of HTS, costing $2 million. How was this funding achieved?
The answer to this question is critical to determining the course of the proxy wars in Idlib, next to Turkey. Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, missteps by Western countries and the AK Party government have enabled Russia to take control of Syria.
Nowadays, with the Belt-Road agreement signed with the Assad administration a few weeks ago, China is also entering Syria.
After Ukraine, a new West-Russia-China proxy war is waiting in Syria as well. Moreover, Syria is closer to Turkey than to Ukraine. Add to this the millions of Syrian refugees in Turkey and more to come if Idlib gets worse. The situation is very critical, very dire, very serious…