Jan 22 2018

Erdoğan is taking big gamble on Syria – analysis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is taking a risky gamble by intervening militarily in Syria because he is defying Russia, the United States and the regime in Damascus.

None of the big players in Syria support him, including Russia, which has expressed serious concerns, despite pulling back troops from the firing line and allowing the Turks to step in, writes Simon Tisdall for the Guardian.

Russia could intervene at any time because it still controls the airspace over Afrin and Syrian President Bashal al-Assad is angry at Erdoğan, threatening to retaliate for Turkey’s transgression of its borders, particularly if Erdoğan attempts to fulfill a threat to push on east to Manbij, Tisdall said.

Erdoğan could jeopardise the post-war plans of Iran, Assad and Russia, who would rather have the Kurds running northern Syria than ISIS or other jihadist groups, he said. Relations with the United States, which has backed the Kurds militarily against ISIS, are also near breaking point.

"But Erdoğan is unbending. Rightly or wrongly, he sees northern Syria as Turkey’s number one security challenge. He also appears, yet again, to be dealing the “Kurdish terror” card to a domestic audience," Tisdall said.

"Turkey’s leader is now almost totally isolated internationally – but appears not to care."

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