Agreement on Idlib; a defeat for Turkey
Turkish and Russian presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, agreed on Thursday in Moscow on a ceasefire arrangement in Idlib, with the city of Idlib close to being captured by the advancing Syrian government forces.
Iran Press/Middle East: The Syrian army and its allies had the upper hand in the fight against terrorism and were approaching Idlib, the capital of the province of Idlib when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Damascus not to advance any further.
Damascus, however, continued its operations against terrorists in Idlib, despite Ankara's warnings, and Erdogan again ordered an attack on Syrian army positions in violation of Syrian sovereignty. The attack effectively supported the terrorists in Syria, who are backed by Turkey.
Turkey, a Nato member, has come dangerously close to war with Russia over Idlib. In the past month, Syrian and Turkish troops have repeatedly clashed, killing scores on both sides.
For Turkey, which has sent thousands of troops to Syria in the past few weeks, the intervention has been disastrous: 58 Turkish soldiers were killed in the past month, including 33 in an airstrike last week.
The Turkish attacks, while being responded by the Syrian army and its allies, also triggered a Russian military response. Dozens of Turkish soldiers were killed and wounded in the Russian attack on the terrorist positions in Idlib. In this situation, Erdogan had no choice but to meet with Vladimir Putin to discuss the Idlib crisis. The meeting took place on Thursday (5 March) with Erdogan's visit to Moscow, and a ceasefire arrangement was agreed upon in Idlib.
Thursday's deal was proof of Turkey's defeat for many reasons. First of all, it was Erdogan who met Putin on a hastily-arranged trip to Moscow. This shows that Turkey needed to negotiate with Russia and reach an agreement with Moscow to end the fighting in Idlib.
Secondly, the agreement was reached when delegations from Turkey had already travelled to Russia and met with senior officials in Moscow.
Erdoğan was in a weak position in Thursday's deal, and in the past three weeks, Turkey came to the conclusion that direct war was not in Ankara's interests. Thirdly, Erdogan was desperate, especially after he failed to get assistance from Nato. In fact, the Turkish president realized that Nato was not willing to engage with Russia to support Ankara. In order to force Europe and Nato's hand, Erdogan said he would no longer prevent migrants and refugees from entering Europe and encouraged huge numbers of migrants to cross the border into Greece. Turkey's threat to use the issue of refugees did not work, however, and there was no Nato intervention in Syria.
Fourthly, during talks on Thursday, Putin, whilst expressing condolences to Erdogan over the death of Turkish troops, ironically told Erdogan face-to-face that Moscow was not aware of the whereabouts of Turkish troops in Syria. In fact, Putin reiterated the position of the Russian government that Turkey supports terrorists in Syria.
The Russian defence ministry said last week after dozens of Turkish troops were killed in the attack on Russian fighters, that Ankara had not informed us of the presence of its troops in Idlib and that Turkish troops were among the terrorists and armed militants involved in the airstrikes that were targeted in Idlib. Vladimir Putin has actually shown Recep Tayyip Erdogan that it's not Turkey that is deciding on Syria, but it is Damascus and its allies that have the upper hand in Idlib.
Written By: Seyyed Reza Emadi