Turkey’s intervention has created new possibilities in Syria – analyst

Turkey’s recent military intervention in Syria has created new possibilities both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table, said an analyst writing in The National Interest on Saturday. 

“The Idlib intervention has enabled the space for coercive diplomacy: Ankara’s use of force has established a red line that has, for now, prevented Idlib’s fall while also potentially strengthening Turkey’s negotiating hand in future bilateral interactions with Russia,” said Rana Alaaldin, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Doha.

Turkey’s action could help it achieve possible demands, such as preventing the fall of the last rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib or securing other concessions related to humanitarian needs in Idlib.

A new counter-offensive, dubbed Operation Spring Shield, was launched by Turkey on March 1 after at least 36 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike at the end of February that has been attributed to Russian planes backing Syrian forces.

Turkey’s March 5 ceasefire agreement with Russia creates a buffer zone along the strategic M4 highway that dissects Idlib province and will be policed by joint Turkish-Russian patrols but does not provide for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from newly captured territory.

While it is doubtful that the ceasefire will last, Turkey has shown than Moscow can be pressured if military force is leveraged, and it has exposed just how dependent Syria is on its foreign allies and how vulnerable it could be to foreign interventions, said Alaaldin.

While Turkey’s intervention is unlikely to repair its relations with the United States, it does give Washington some insights into how it might be able to extend its leverage in Syria. 

“Turkey’s intervention may not have been transformational, but its offensive has added another layer to a war that is far from over and that may yet produce opportunities for Washington in unexpected ways,” said Alaaldin.