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07.03.2017

Turkish Gambit by Syrian Kurds

Gambit in chess - figures of sacrifice for the sake of a better position; in a broader sense - winning quality price concessions amount. The large Syrian board a Turkish gambit brilliantly played the local Kurds, have agreed on the biggest deal of the war with the central government.

This happened after, having defeated the large city of Al-Bab in the north of the province of Aleppo from the Islamic State (IG), the Turks announced that the Syrian Free Army (SSA) controlled by them would go to Manbage, which was held by the Kurds. This was said by R. Erdogan, who stated that the capture of Manbije is necessary for the creation along the entire northern border of Syria of a "security zone" and an offensive against the "capital" of the IG Rakku. According to him, in the necessity of this he persuaded during a personal meeting and D. Trump. However, reports that the Americans, patronizing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDS), the basis of which is the Kurds, approved the intentions of Ankara, did not arrive. And it is not surprising, as SDS achieved impressive successes in the Syrian theater of military operations. It is unlikely that Washington will want to abandon such an ally for the expansion of the "security zone" conceived by the Turks, in which many saw a prototype of the type of Northern Cyprus.

And the most tangible blow to the plans of Ankara was inflicted by the Kurds themselves. In early March, they agreed with Damascus to establish joint control over the territory they liberated from the IG to the west of the Euphrates, including Manbige. It is understood that the government units will be deployed primarily in the border between Kurds and pro-Turkish forces. With the help of Damascus, the restoration of the old local authorities should also begin. The commencement of the transfer of control over a number of settlements to Damascus was confirmed by the Military Council of Manbage (although later this body, created under the auspices of the Americans, called this agreement limited, apparently, the US advisers restrain the process).

As a guarantee of future cooperation, the Syrian government sent a column to these territories with food and medicine. It is assumed that the column could also carry arms and ammunition for Kurdish detachments. In addition, according to some reports, the agreements stipulate that the Syrian army may, if necessary, use other areas controlled by the Kurds as a springboard for an offensive against the IG. This agreement largely reproduces the conditions for the already established interaction of the Syrian government army and Kurds in other areas, particularly in the Kurdish-populated canton of Afrin and the Aleppo quarter of Sheikh-Maksud. Here, even the reverse order was acting: without the impossibility of locating garrisons in all the areas liberated by it, the government army trusted this mission in a number of cases to Kurdish formations. Turkey pushed the Syrian Kurds to interact with B. Assad, not only as a threat to the attack on Manbij, but also as a general strategy. By driving a wedge between two enclaves occupied by Kurds, the Turks forced them to establish links between themselves through territories controlled by the government and with the assistance of the government.

Perhaps held to talk about the strategic alliance between Damascus and the Kurds so far, but there is a mutually beneficial cooperation. And it can play a decisive role in the final stages of the war. It allows the Russian side is safe to say that if the United States will continue to fluctuate on cooperation with Russia in the fight against the IG, it will cope without them. Just not in the way.

Israeli military experts believe that the Syrian Kurds "cooled" to the United States and began to look more towards Moscow and Damascus. Kurds are tired of waiting until Washington finally develops a strategy in Syria and more actively intervenes in events. They also are not satisfied with the limited amount of supplies from the Americans. Instead of advanced American weapons, obsolete models of Soviet weapons, such as AK-47 automatons, come to them. More Kurds are worried about Washington's unwillingness to protect them from Turkish threats, as well as the prospect of establishing mutual understanding between Erdogan and Trump. Leaders of the Syrian Kurds come to the conclusion that they are sacrificing their fighters for the sake of American, and not their own interests. In this situation, Moscow seems to them the best choice.

On Ankara, the arrangements between Damascus and the Kurds acted soberingly. They do not in any way violate the agreement reached between Ankara and Moscow on the mutual non-aggression of the pro-Turkish SSA and the government Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and on the delineation of control lines between them in the northeast of Syria. The Turks consciously left behind territories of these agreements controlled by the Kurds, in order to preserve the possibility of an attack on them. And miscalculated. If the CAA is along the border of these territories, then the obligations undertaken by Ankara in the dialogue with Moscow will automatically spread to this site. Violating them unilaterally, and even in the absence of Washington's support, Turkey will hardly dare.

Turkish experts with disappointment and somewhat exaggerating state that "the United States, Russia, the terrorist organization PYD (SDS - DM) and the regime of Bashar Assad have united" to prevent the advance of the Turkish army and the Syrian opposition forces to Manbiju. Director of Security Studies of the Turkish Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) Murat Yeshiltash states, for example, that Moscow is trying to prevent the continuation of the operation "Shield of the Euphrates." In his opinion, similarly acts against Ankara and the United States, "sending special forces and armored vehicles to the northern regions of Manbij."

Turkey has to reckon with all this; Prime Minister B. Yildirim said that it is preferable for Ankara that Manbij is controlled by the Syrian army, and not by the Kurdish forces. Turkish Foreign Minister M.Chavushoglu, commenting on the reports on the Kurdish-Syrian agreements, acknowledged the existence of an agreement with the Russian Federation to prevent clashes between the SAA and the SSA. Nevertheless, he tried to put the agreement data in doubt, arguing that while the Kurdish side of the government troops can not be seen, as they move further to the east. The argument is weak, as the troops do not enter for long. The main thing is that Cavusoglu actually recognized the extension of the agreement with Moscow and this situation.

Overall, Turkey's strategy in the Syrian conflict has reached a deadlock. Ankara biased to the world and its own public opinion for a decisive struggle against the IG, but now it turns out that the way to Raqqa and through the territories controlled by the Syrian government, and through Kurdish territory it is closed. Stay Turkish troops in northern Syria at the Al-Baba becomes ambiguous, and in no way justified. It is necessary to look for other options and save face.

I think that for this Erdogan, reported news agency, is seeking an urgent meeting with Vladimir Putin. But the Turks should understand that their continued involvement in the Syrian conflict is now limited. No doubt, it was helpful to the continuation of the Turkish raids of aviation on the IG position; We would appreciate the forces fighting with IG in Syria, and Turkish material support, including military supplies, but on land transactions is probably better to forget.

A source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Author: Dmitry MININ

Tags: Syria, Kurds, army, Turkey, the war in the Middle East, Analytics, Middle East, Politics