A few days ago, the Syrian emissary to the United Nations then present at the Astana talks denounced Turkey for having occupied four times as much territory in northern Syria as in the Golan. This remark, which is very timely, is almost ignored by the media. And yet there is something to be interested in. Some sources claim that Ankara advocates autonomy for the Syrian north and north-east, an autonomy centred on a militia that is in its pay, the ASL. To avoid a Syrian-Russian offensive against Idlib where nosratist terrorists are constantly increasing their anti-Syrian action, Ankara promised the Russian and Syrian sides to have Al-Nosra integrated by the ASL. Some channels close to the Turkish authorities evoke the ingenious but o much overshadowed Turkish idea that the ASL could become a kind of “Hezbollah” in northern Syria, namely an armed organization that would gradually integrate political life. What is Erdogan’s Turkey playing at? In its article dated 25 April, the Al-Monitor website tries to respond to it.
On 27 April, the Russian President warned armed groups not to carry out terrorist acts in the Idlib de-escalation zone and stressed that Russia would not allow them to go unpunished. “With regard to the Idlib area, I have repeated it several times and I would like to repeat it once again. We must continue to fight the terrorists who have settled in this Idlib area. If they make incursions from there, which happens from time to time, they will be retaliated by us,” President Putin said at a press conference in Beijing.
For many analysts, these statements have the value of a warning: despite its political acrobatics, Turkey risks seeing Idlib province escape its grip, and then the acts of war increasingly committed by Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (HTC) terrorists against the army’s positions in Hamah, Idlib or Aleppo, amply justify such an offensive. Indeed, Turkey’s mission and in accordance with the Sochi agreement was to eradicate Idlib’s terrorists, a task it has not wanted to fulfil so far. Time is therefore not on the side of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan: the operation against Idlib will be definitive if he does not decide to end the terrorists. Not a day goes by without Syrian and Russian air force operations in the region or without Damascus saying it is determined to take over Idlib.
So what can we do? An ingenious plan seems to have crossed the minds of Ankara’s strategists: the first phase of this plan has been partially implemented: to join the ASL terrorist militia, supported since 2011 by Ankara, the terrorists of Hayat Tahrir al-Cham. This cocktail is acting as it has been occupied since Idlib against the positions of the Syrian army and its allies both in Hamah and Aleppo and it is now extending its action to Latakia where the Russian air base is located.
It is true that Turkish troops are protecting Al-Nosra terrorists from attacks by the Syrian army and some media even claim that Turkish aircraft no longer hesitate to claim from Syrian skies that they are violating Qaidists’ ground operations.
But can this state of affairs continue? Al-Monitor’s article replies in denial: “In Beijing, Putin was very angry. It did not rule out the possibility that a large-scale military operation could take place in Idlib, taking into account the interests of the local civilian population, although it is not appropriate at this time. But in addition to Russia there is also the strong opposition of the Syrian army and its allies from the Resistance axis to a buffer zone on which Ankara is working in northern Syria. Some circles in Turkey are urging the authorities to draw a parallel between the ASL and Hezbollah and to inform Damascus that the ASL could play the same role as the Lebanese Resistance for the Syrian State, if the latter accepted its continuation in the northern regions. The idea was violently rejected by Damascus, which refuses any comparison.
Ankara seeks to give international legitimacy to the ASL, a terrorist militia created by the Western services and Turkey to overthrow the Syrian state in 2011, a militia that now includes Daechists, Qaidists, Salafists and others in its ranks. The Syrians are not ready to forget the abuses committed by the ASL against them, ASL which now acts as the executing arm of the Turkish occupier in Syria. And then such a bloody militia has nothing to compare to Hezbollah. Throughout its existence, the Lebanese Resistance has only protected Lebanon from external enemies. Hezbollah is a 100% Lebanese force. He is part of the Lebanese people and government and has never acted against the interests of either the nation or the Lebanese State. While the ASL is involved in the massacre of Syrian civilians. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is a group of terrorists of foreign origin. They do not call themselves Syrians and do not consider Syria their homeland.
Terrorists will never be able to enter the Syrian political scene. And then, as a Western diplomat speaking with Al-Monitor anonymously indicated, if Ankara were to engage in such an exercise, “it is equivalent to a pious wish since neither Russia nor Iran, let alone Damascus, would accept a continuation of the ASL or its merger with Al-Qaida. More than ever, Ankara faces a dilemma: to clash with Syria and its allies or to play fair and definitively cut off its expansionist ambitions.