Int’l Pressure Mounts As Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring Winds Up To Succeed

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 15 October 2019
Int’l Pressure Mounts As Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring Winds Up To Succeed

Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring has been underway for a couple of days and for the time being the international reactions are not favourable for the official Ankara though the initial U.S. and Russian approaches were positive and the operation was kicked off after testing the waters in Washington and Ankara.

The overall assessment of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring is positive. I positively assess the operation itself, namely, as the minimum necessary compensation for the failure by Turkey and the Syrian opposition of an ambitious strategy in Syria, which should result in the liberation of this country from the Assad regime throughout its territory, with the possible exception of the Alawite belt along the coast.

Since the war for this purpose has been lost, only two options remain. Either the repetition of 1982, when the Sunni uprising was drowned in blood, but this time, with much greater victims, destruction and repression. Or the creation for the remnants of the Sunni resistance and those Syrians who do not want to live under the regime, asylum or a bridgehead in the form of an actual state under the protectorate of Turkey and along its border, consolidated in territorial, political and military relations.

That, in turn, would allow Turkey to resettle Syrian refugees there and get out of this story with almost no loss of face, at least in comparison with the option of completely surrendering those who believed it. As for the course of the operation itself, it is being conducted effectively for the format of support by Turkey (logistics, armament, reconnaissance, special forces, fire cover) of the Syrian National Army forces, thus undergoing a “combat debut”.

If you evaluate it by the standards of conducting offensive operations by regular armies, and even by large military powers, like Turkey, then the coverage of the territory and the pace of the offensive will look very modest. This creates a backlash that competitors in Turkey and SNA are trying to take advantage of. But this is because the Turks are trying to minimize their own losses and participation, limiting themselves to supporting their Syrian proteges. Since this approach is justified, one can be judged by the results of the operation.

This operation led to the fact that the Kurds agreed with Assad and now the Kurds are surrendering the cities they control to the troops of Assad and Russia. Now the question is whether or not Turkey miscalculated this moment, and this was part of the plan of Erdogan and Putin.

This could not be ignored, especially since this operation was prepared and agreed upon for a very long time, and the Turkish intelligence and leadership are well aware of the long-standing and close relations of the PKK with Moscow, and with the Assad regime itself, which at one time, fed and nurtured in Syria, when in the 1980s, he received its militants from Turkey, generously equipping them with territories and bases. Therefore, the only question is how seriously and decisively will the Turkish leadership achieve its stated goal, namely the creation of an approximately 30-kilometer zone along the part of the Turkish-Syrian border that the PKK controls.

Now the question is what will happen and how possible is a clash between Assad and Turkey. These clashes are already underway according to the incoming information and are possible in the future, if, on the one hand, Moscow is unable or unwilling to keep its wards from Damascus within a reasonable framework, and the Turkish leadership will be decisive in achieving the stated goals. How far this goes will depend on the mood of the parties.

Asked if a clash of pro-Russian forces with Turkey possible, I think that this is an unlikely option, since for Moscow, the capture by the Turks of a narrow strip along the border, although undesirable, is due to the fact that the remnants of the rebels will settle there, which in this way will not be able to completely clear out what they are striving for with Damascus, but still not critical.

This is critical for Damascus. Therefore, I expect Moscow to try to restrain the Turks with its Damascus proxies, but I think it is unlikely that a direct military conflict between Russia and Turkey is possible, given that the latter, in essence, has given Moscow a large part of Syria.