Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has just concluded at a press conference alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in which the Foreign Minister attempted and largely succeeded in injecting reason, logic and honesty into a geopolitical narrative that has been poisoned by the French President’s dishonest rhetoric. During a statement in which French President Emmanuel Macron bragged that he “convinced” Donald Trump to keep US troops in Syria, he also bragged that the US, UK and French airstrikes against Syria has created a divide between Turkey on the one side and Russia and Iran on the other.
Turkey has responded to Macron’s statement with disbelief. Foreign Minister Cavusoglu has said that Macron’s remarks are a blatant falsehood describing them as “populist” in nature, a term which Turkish officials often use to criticise overzealous European politicians. Cavusoglu further stated that it is important for Turkey to maintain good relations with Russia, Iran and the NATO countries of Europe as well as the United States. The Foreign Minister also admonished the French President saying that Russo-Turkish ties are “too strong” to be broken by Macon and his rhetoric. This is consistent with Turkey’s post-2016 foreign policy trajectory and has not changed because of the airstrikes. Commenting further Cavusoglu stated, “we have to have strong relations with all countries…I’d like to invite him (Macron) to become more serious”.
Earlier in the day, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag stated,
“Our policy serves the right cause. We choose the countries with which we intend to cooperate based on this – we will cooperate with those who are on the side of truth. If this serves the interests of our policy on Syria, we will take joint actions both with the United States, and with Russia and Iran”.
In other words, nothing has changed. In fact, not only has Turkey’s policy remained consistent through the entire ordeal surrounding western airstrikes on Damascus, but so too have the policies of Russia, Iran and Syria. The only countries whose policies change so frequently that they are nearly impossible to define on Monday without having to amend the definition on Tuesday, are the policies of the US, UK and France. For the sake of clarification, the following are the policies of parties to the Syrian conflict.
Turkey is working in a productive environment with its Astana partners Russia and Iran in order to create and enforce de-escalation zones throughout the country while working to facilitate an expedient political settlement to the conflict. While Turkey tends to agree with western countries in wanting a political settlement that reduces the influence of President Al-Assad’s Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, Turkey has made it clear that it no longer sees regime change as a requisite for a settlement it can support. In other words, Turkey is aware that President Al-Assad isn’t going anywhere and Turkey accepts this reality, in spite of occasionally rhetoric designed primarily for domestic consumption which criticises the Syrian President and his government.
While Turkey agrees with the US position regarding the Syrian President in an abstract sense, Turkey has urged restraint in terms of a direct US-Russian conflict in Syria and crucially did not allow its territory to be used by the US, UK or France in launching strikes on Syria. Furthermore, Turkey reached out to Syria for a partnership against the YPG terrorist that threaten the territorial integrity of both countries. Damascus’s refusal may indeed be one reason that on the chemical weapons charade, Turkey quietly agreed with western powers which in other matters Anakra has profound disagreements with.
Crucially, Turkey’s biggest disagreement with any parties in the conflict, is its disagreement with US, UK and French support for PKK aligned YPG terrorists in Syria, while Russia and Iran have been personally thanked by Persident Erdogan for helping Ankara’s anti-YPG Operation Olive Branch a success. As the Operation continues to move eastward across the Syria-Turkey border, the US may find itself once again at odds with Turkey.
Russia remains committed to working with Syria to liberate territory of the Arab Republic from what remains of terrorist occupation. At the same time, Russia is eager to expedite a political peace process in the Astana format which will respect the territorial unity of the Syrian Arab Republic while also inviting various so-called opposition forces, including moderate Kurdish forces into a settlement that involves disarmament of one sort or another, in exchange for collective support of a political settlement. Russia has always stated that the leadership of Syria can only be decided by the Syrian people. Furthermore, Russia has ruled out helping Syria to liberate its territories that are currently occupied by the US and “Israel”, even though Russia has repeatedly condemned the illegal US occupation of parts of Syria and along with all other UN members barring “Israel”, condemns the Zionist occupation of the Golan heights.
Iran also fully supports the political process of the Astana group of which it is a member but unlike Russia which prioritises the political process over military action, Iran has the opposite priority. Furthermore, Iran seeks to help Syria in liberating its territory of all foreign entities including the US and “Israel”, although no specific plans or timeline have been set in order to achieve this long held goal. Occasionally, Iranian media will offer criticism of Turkey’s role in northern Syria but at an inter-governmental level, Iran and Turkey remain cooperative in many areas, including over the Syrian peace process.
Like Iran, Syria has vowed to liberate 100% of Syrian territory. This includes that which is occupied by Takfiris, the United States, “Israel” and Turkey, even though unlike the US and “Israel”, Turkey has insured the world that it will fully withdraw from Syria at the appropriate moment – aka, sooner rather than later. Syria has partly disappointed Russia by failing to even privately reach out to Turkey for a kind of rapprochement which is necessary seeing as the Astana group is a partnership between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran. Nevertheless, Syria maintains a close partnership with both Russia and Iran, in spite of many in alt-media trying to convince Syria to choose one or the other.
“Israel” would ideally still like to see regime change in Damascus in line with the consistent policies of the Tel Aviv regime to prefer corrupt monarchies or extremist theocracies in the Arab world vis-a-vis strong Arab Nationalist secular states. That being said, “Israel” has pivoted its policy in line with the events on the ground and is now more concerned with “ridding” Syria of Hezbollah and Iranian personnel than it is directly concerned with regime change.
The US and its EU clients
US and EU policy makers appear to have a similar view to officials in Tel Aviv, but unlike their “Israeli” counterparts who are not shy about sticking with the anti-Iran/anti-Hezbollah narrative while grudgingly admitting that their Arab Nationalist enemy will remain in power in Damascus, western politicians are generally totally inconsistent in their statements.
One day someone gives a speech in favour of withdrawing troops (Trump a few weeks ago), the next day they admit Al-Assad will likely stay (Macron earlier this year), then someone will say that the tripartite aggressive airstrike was a “one shot deal” (US Defense Secretary Mattis several days ago), and then someone will contradict this by saying more strikes are on the table under certain conditions and that the US will be staying in Syria for the foreseeable future (US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and French President Macron hours ago). In the UK the government doesn’t seem to have any clear policy on Syria whatsoever while the opposition remain anti-war under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.
As a man with zero foreign policy experience prior to becoming President, Emmanuel Macron clearly overstepped a red line by telling an outright lie about Turkey. As a result, Turkey’s highly experienced Foreign Minister as well as the Deputy Prime Minister have called Macron out on this geopolitical mischief making. The result is that no policies have been changed, but that Macron, a man already unpopular in Turkey due to his support for radical Kurdish terrorism, will only grow less and less respected among officials in Ankara.