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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 18-Sep-2018
18-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria

Web Log - September, 2018

18-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria

The delusional terms of the Turkey-Russian Idlib agreement

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from

Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin applaud themselves for having reached an agreement on Idlib on Monday in Sochi (RT)
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin applaud themselves for having reached an agreement on Idlib on Monday in Sochi (RT)

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's president Vladimir Putin held a summit meeting on Monday at Russia's Sochi Black Sea resort. After the meeting, the two leaders held a press conference and announced that there would be no attack on Idlib province in Syria, at least for the time being.

This would have to be viewed as a diplomatic victory for Erdogan, after a recent summit meeting in Tehran on September 7 with Russia and Iran where Turkey's attempt to avert the Idlib operation was rejected by the other two parties. ( "8-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria")

Turkey has been desperate to stop the Syria-Russia offensive, because it would be a humanitarian disaster in Idlib, and because it would be a humanitarian disaster for Turkey. Turkey already hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and there are potentially 3 million more in Idlib who would try to flee across the the border into Turkey, and possibly further on into Europe.

It's believed that Russia backed down from an immediate assault on Idlib because of international pressure. After the Tehran meeting two weeks ago, Erdogan said:

"If the world turns a blind eye to the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people to further the regime's interests, we will neither watch from the sidelines nor participate in such a game."

Since then, Turkey has been supplying additional weapons to "moderate" rebels in Idlib, to prepare them for the assault. Separately, the US and other Nato countries have repeatedly warned Russia and Syria. President Donald Trump said that the assault would be a "grave humanitarian error," while Nikki Haley said that it would provoke "dire consequences."

And Russia's decision may have been swayed by the prospect of the enormity of the humanitarian disaster, when al-Assad starts perpetrating Putin's own "Grozny Strategy," exterminating women and children in Idlib with attacks on hospitals, markets and schools, with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals and chlorine gas, and with Sarin gas, causing massive slaughter and massive crowds of fleeing refugees.

There's one more reason why Putin might be reluctant to go ahead with the mass slaughter in Idlib. Putin has said at least 9,000 people from the republics of the former Soviet Union have gone to Syria to fight for al-Qaeda or ISIS or other extremist groups. It's possible that many of them are still in Idlib, and the Syrian-Russian assault would allow them to join refugees pouring into Turkey, and from there continue on to return home to their native countries to continue the jihad there. Russia Today and AP and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

The delusional terms of the Turkey-Russian Idlib agreement

The agreement between Erdogan and Putin is a big relief to a lot of people, especially the people in Idlib, because it buys time. But it buys little more than that, because the terms are delusional.

According to the agreement, Russia and Turkey will set up a 10-15 km wide demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib province, to be policed by Russia and Turkey.

All the anti-Assad "rebels" in this buffer zone are required to lay down their arms, leave behind heavy artillery, and depart for other enclaves. These include both "moderate" rebels, and also those in al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly the al-Nusra Front.

It will be Turkey's responsibility to separate the 60,000 or so rebels from the other three million civilians in Idlib. It would be nearly impossible anyway, but these are people who will not want to be found, and are willing to die rather than surrender.

But main objection to this temporary peace agreement is the same as all the others in Putin's "Astana process." You have a ceasefire agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran. These are supposed to be Syrian peace agreements, but there are never Syrians involved in the agreement -- either al-Assad or the opposition.

The whole Astana process has been nothing more than a farcical cover for al-Assad's genocidal actions. The Astana process identified four "de-escalation zones," or "ceasefire zones," but Russia never had any intention of meeting his own commitments. The ceasefire zones were set up so that there would be a ceasefire until al-Assad was ready for his extermination assaults, as we've seen in Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa.

The last de-escalation zone is Idlib, and it's different from the others in that Turkey has been responsible for enforcing the ceasefire. Al-Assad and Russia could attack at will in the other de-escalation zones, because there was nobody opposed. But in Idlib Turkey is opposed, and wants to enforce the ceasefire.

Russia and al-Assad never had any intention that Idlib would remain a ceasefire zone, but now they've been forced by international pressure to wait a while before going in for the kill. And when they do, whether they will have to face Turkey's military is an unknown.

Perhaps the biggest delusion of all, shared by many politicians and journalists, is that the Syrian war is almost over. Al-Assad said that the war would end after Aleppo was assaulted. Then he said that the war was over after Daraa was assaulted.

As I've written many times, al-Assad is a psychopathic monster, the worst genocidal war criminal so far this century, comparable to Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot from the last century. For al-Assad, the extermination of the women and children in Idlib would be the climax of his life, proving that he was better than his father Hafez al-Assad was at committing mass slaughter and atrocities. Thanks to Monday's agreement between Russia and Turkey, al-Assad is going to have to wait a little longer to prove how much more of a man he is than his father. BBC and Al Jazeera and Asia Times and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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