Sunday, April 08, 2018

Last Jerk Standing?

Is Assad's foreign policy brilliant in getting a once-hostile Turkey to work with Assad's allies Russia and Iran? Or is Turkey still trying to dominate Syria?

Turkey is working with historical enemies from the north and east, Russia and Iran, to control Syria:

Iran, Russia and Turkey have teamed up to forge a strong if brittle tripartite alliance aimed at holding ascendancy in Syria, taking advantage of the West's reluctance to engage militarily in the country.

The presidents of the three countries, long seen as regional rivals rather than strategic allies, will meet Wednesday in Ankara for their second three way summit on Syria in a striking demonstration of unity.

Iran and Russia are historic foes, too, for that matter. So the alliance is hardly deep and seems unlikely to last.

But is Turkey trying to use Russia and Iran to gain advantage over Syria?

Because don't forget that in 2011 Turkey gave Assad an ultimatum to stop killing Syrian civilians. That was well over 400,000 dead ago, of course. But does Turkey still think of Assad that way or has Turkey truly "reset" their relations with Assad's Syria?

And yes, it is plausible that Turkey is simply trying to keep Russia and Iran from becoming bigger threats while the Syria crisis that prompted the ultimatum drags on. It's too late to go back in time and take action in 2011 when Assad was teetering. So is this what Turkey is doing?

That seems odd since Russia isn't much of a threat to Turkey these days apart from nukes given that Russia no longer has a land border with Turkey and has a lot of other military problems to deal with using their fairly weak (for the vast country it must defend) military. And post-Revolution Iran is still weak militarily as long as it doesn't have nukes. Even if Iran had a potent military, the eastern border is far from Turkish centers of power and in rough terrain, so an invasion of Turkey could be blunted before doing any real damage.

At some point, Turkey will turn on Russia or Iran using the odd man out as an ally, all to hope to be the last foreign actor standing in Syria.

I'll guess that Iran gets to be the target given Turkey's efforts to curry favor with Arab states and given that if Turkey remains in NATO, Turkey has other allies to contain their friend of the moment, Russia.

Plus, I'm kind of thinking that Erdogan is just being kind of a jerk because he can--and is.