President Erdogan and Turkey are, for the moment at least, replacing President Bashar al-Assad and his regime as the leading international pariahs.
By Patrick Cockburn and cross-posted from Counterpunch.org
Turkey’s Syrian venture is rapidly turning sour from President Erdogan’s point of view. The Turkish advance into northeast Syria is moving slowly, but Turkey’s military options are becoming increasingly limited as the Syrian Army, backed by Russia, moves into Kurdish-held cities and towns that might have been targeted by Turkish forces.
It is unlikely that Mr Erdogan will risk taking on Syrian government troops, even if they are thin on the ground, if this involves quarrelling with Russia. In the seven days since he launched Operation Peace Spring, Turkey has become more diplomatically isolated than Ankara might have envisaged when President Trump appeared to greenlight its attack.
A week later after that implicit okay of Turkey’s offensive, Mr Trump is imposing economic sanctions on Ankara after a wild zig-zag in US policy – bizarre even by Trumpian standards.
Almost the entire world is condemning the Turkish invasion and, having achieved the objective of eliminating the Kurdish statelet of Rojava, Turkey will have great difficulty in making any more gains.
“Now that the Kurds and Damascus have come to an agreement, I do not think that Ankara will dare to open a new front against Assad forces,” writes the highly informed Turkish military commentator Metin Gurcan.
Even token numbers of Syrian troops in cities like Manbij and Kobani close to the Euphrates, and Qamishli and Hasakah close to the Iraqi border, will leave Turkish soldiers and allied Arab militiamen confined to a rectangle of territory between the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal-Abyad, possibly extending 20 miles south to the M4 highway – which is the strategic spine of Rojava. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have avoided costly engagements, but could become more of a threat if backed by Syrian army artillery and tanks…