Turkey and Russian cooperation endangered by diverging interests – Arab News

The “marriage of convenience” tying Moscow and Ankara together may be nearing its end as Russia and the Syrian government continue bombarding Syrians near Turkey’s border in Idlib and the two countries take opposing sides in another conflict in Libya, the Arab News reported.

Turkey and Russia have continued working together in Syria and elsewhere despite being on opposite sides of the conflict, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s sharp criticism of Russia over the Idlib bombardment showed that their differences may be growing too great for further cooperation, Arab News said.

The Turkish president said Russia had betrayed the Astana peace process, which has been jointly sponsored by Turkey, Russia and Iran, and the Sochi accord, which secured a ceasefire in Idlib in 2018.

Russia says that Turkey has failed to keep its side of the Idlib truce and remove what it calls extremists from the northwest Syrian governorate, which is the last sizable area in the country still held by rebels. Syrian government forces and Russian jets began bombarding the province last year in spring, driving thousands of displaced Syrians toward Turkey’s border and threatening a fresh refugee crisis.

After the Syrian government offensive heated up this month, Turkey’s Defence Ministry warned that it would retaliate against any move that endangered the Turkish military observation posts dotted around the outskirts of Idlib.

But after the Syrian government’s forces took key strategic points in the province, it will be difficult for Turkey to protect its interests there, analyst Samuel Ramani told Arab News.

“Turkey’s main priority now is to contain the fallout. 110,000 Syrian refugees are crowding the Turkish borders and rates of internal displacement are spiralling out of control, even by the horrific standards of the Syrian civil war,” he said.