We have entered the eighth year of the crisis in Syria and nowadays are in a situation in which it is acknowledged that the whole matter leads to the borders of Idlib. Now everyone is talking about what will happen to Idlib, not Syria.
By: Yasin Aktay*
If the problem of Idlib is solved like Russian, Iranian and regime forces want, there will be no problem. However, the solution anticipated by this troika in Idlib does not suggest any other result than the death of tens of thousands of people in an air strike, which doesn’t discriminate between civilian or terrorist, the destruction of the city and 3.5 million civilians mass migrating out of the city as refugees.
When this happens, the problem will be solved for them, but it is a solution that will end up in genocide. It is a solution which involved a million deaths, millions of casualties and losses, and more than half of the population ending up as refugees. Above all, this solution creates major problems for the rest of the world, especially for Turkey and Europe. Turkey is the only country to cry out that such massacres attempted by regime forces with the help of Iran and Russia to eliminate the opposition would neither be a solution for the regime, nor for the Troika in general, or for anybody else.
In fact, we can’t say that Europe is not aware of the severity of this issue, and therefore on every occasion, they make statements that support Turkey in this regard. Moreover, this is a surprising degree of support that has not received from Europe in a long time. But there is no surprise in such support. Actually, they are aware of the fact that Turkey would be overwhelmed with a new possible wave of migration due to a new massacre in Idlib with the help of Iran and Russia.
Europeans can clearly anticipate that such a new wave of migration would turn out to be a direct threat against the perpetuity of EU. Otherwise, unfortunately, their worries about the massacres in Idlib are not due to humanitarian concerns, but due to the possible damage, it would cause them. As a matter of fact, their stance against the deaths of one million people and the developments leading to the deportation of over ten million was not based on principles, but on disturbing aspects for them.
The support given to Turkey since this process would finally affect the EU, cannot be truly relied upon. At the moment, the EU does not have an effective instrument to stop the process, or it lacks the strong initiative to use the instruments it has. It simply follows the developments in a worried manner and hopes that Turkey’s assertions will be accepted.
The Tehran summit was expected to resolve the issue of Idlib at the diplomacy table. However, the outcome of the summit, for now, shows that Iran and Russia have prioritized not to concede on their field achievements at all and that they have ever cared about civilian lives or any form of a prospective order in Syria that favours all Syrians. The diplomacy adopted by them is far from being a humanitarian policy, moreover, it clearly shows that they do not even care about how Turkey, their partner in this process, would be affected by their operations.
When the Idlib issue is resolved, maybe the Syrian problem will be solved for them. But the presence of U.S. there does not disturb them more than they are disturbed by the presence of Turkey in Jarabulus or Afrin. However, the U.S. presence in Syria, at its best, is a divisive entity, which sneaks up step by step to create an armed and organized statelet from terrorist organizations, like the Syrian branches of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the PYD and YPG. The principle of the indivisible integrity of Syria, however, was a consensus established in the Astana process along with the principle that foreign elements abandon Syrian territory.
The U.S. presence in Syria, its activities, is contrary to the essence of the Astana process. Because, with the pretext of the fight against terrorism, the whole strategy of the U.S. is based on the disintegration of Syria in order to endorse power and a state to terrorist organizations.
The scope of “foreign elements” to be withdrawn from Syria was not restricted to terrorist organizations alone. It included everyone except the Syrians, including Russia, Iran and Turkey as well. The most valuable and important concession in the process was the fact that Syria belonged to the Syrians alone and that only they would decide on its future. However, the discourse of Russia and Iran in Tehran virtually suggests a fait accompli which redefines their presence as the only essential element. This was based on the self-confidence achieved from an advantage they obtained in Syria.
This self-confidence has made them insensitive to the loss of innocent lives in Idlib which they will attack in alliance with the regime forces. This self-confidence stems from their so-called achievements in Eastern Ghouta, which, in the process of Astana, had been declared a “de-escalation zone” just like Idlib, but was ruthlessly attacked and controlled, causing destruction and the death of thousands.
It is a situation which suggests that both Iran and Russia regard the Astana process as a tool of distraction. Before Tehran’s summit, they started their attack on Idlib and thus hoped to have an advantage at the table.
Conducting the Tehran summit in front of the cameras was also a fait accompli by Iran. It was contrary to the practices of such international meetings, but in some ways it allowed the position of every party to be seen with great transparency.
Regarding open debates, there are countless examples in which Turkish President Erdoğan obtains a clear advantage against others thanks to his sincerity and consistency. The same thing took place in this summit as well. His speech, his timely interventions, his highlighted humanism showed the sincerity, virtue, justifiability and discrepancy of his distinctive politics to the whole world.
Upon his return from the summit, President Erdoğan has already declared that this pessimistic scene, which seems to have transformed the entire process into deceit and a fait accompli, is not the end of the things: “In the event that the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people are ignored for the sake of the regime’s interests, we will not be an accomplice or a spectator of such a ploy.”
*Yasin Aktay is a former member of the Turkish parliament and a leading figure of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey. (Published in Yeni Şafak Turkish newspaper on 10 September 2018)