Erdogan points to Kurds with the Idlib wave

The deal Russia and Turkey made over Idlib hasn’t come to fruition yet. Turkey has to convince their own gangs still. But Erdogan has already pointed to Kurds as the next target.

The deal announced after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s meeting last week foresees a buffer zone.

The demilitarized zone is expected to push back the Damascus regime’s perspective of launching a large scale operation against Idlib. At least, that is what Ankara strives for.

WHAT WILL BE DONE UNTIL OCTOBER 15?

The deal, which Ankara participated as the representative of gangs including Al Nusra, aims to instate a “demilitarized zone” controlled by Russia and Turkey until October 15. This zone will be 15 to 20 km wide and positioned between the regime-held areas and gang-controlled areas.

Western powers including the UN had warned that a large scale operation would result in the most severe humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. Western governments’ concerns over a “humanitarian catastrophe” is said to signal concerns more about gang members and refugees possibly flooding Europe. Meanwhile, Ankara is trying to protect the areas they invaded in the region and the gangs they harbor. Amidst all the chaos, there are calculations by Russia, Iran, Gulf states and Western powers both against each other and intertwined concerns.

The deal between Russia and Turkey during this crisis calls for the removal of all armed groups from the buffer zone until mid-October.

EXPERTS DOUBTFUL REGARDING THE IMPLEMENTATION

But experts are doubtful regarding the implementation of this plan. Middle East expert in the Lyon-2 University Fabrice Balanche spoke to the AFP and said it is “difficult for Turkey to impose its will upon the jihadists”. Balanche thinks the deal is very difficult to implement and that it should be expected for the ceasefire to fail in the coming months. Balanche thinks the Syrian army may go forward with the operation.

WILL AL-NUSRA COMPLY?

The Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) founded by the former Al-Nusra stands out as the coalition that has the most control in the region. According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 70% of the area designated as the demilitarized zone is controlled by the HTS.

Huras Al Din, one of the smaller groups in the region associated with Al Qaeda, issued a written statement on Saturday denouncing the deal. HTS hasn’t declared an official position yet, but their propaganda websites show mistrust in Turkey’s intentions.

WHAT WILL THE SHERIFF OF IDLIB DO?

Expert Nick Heras from the Center for a New American Security thinks the situation is still problematic for Ankara. Heras said, “Russians want to see irrefutable evidence that Turkey is fulfilling this task within one month.” Heras calls Turkey the “sheriff of Idlib now”.

So, will they spark clashes between the groups refusing to lay down arms and leave and the groups under their absolute control? Al Nusra and other gangs have been supported and financed by Turkey. There are critical decisions to be made by both the gangs and Turkey.

ANKARA’S GANGS WON’T LAY DOWN ARMS

Ankara-backed National Liberation Front announced that they will comply with the deal between Russia and Turkey completely. The statement said, “But we will remain vigilant for possible betrayal by Russia, the regime or Iran.” The gang coalition announced that they won’t be abandoning “their weapons or their lands”.

Will the presence of gangs who haven’t laid down arms or left the region be enough for the Damascus regime? Will Ankara be able to complete the task given to them by Moscow? What will the steps after the buffer zone be? Can a large scale operation be prevented as long as gangs control Idlib?

There are many questions still awaiting answers, while the Turkish regime turns the attack back towards the Kurds. The Erdoğan regime wants the new target in Syria to be the Kurds, who he has used as the fundamental excuse for all their attacks and invasions in the country. Erdogan visited the US and in a speech on Sunday said, “God willing, we will continue to increase safe zones within Syria that also encompass the east of the Euphrates in the coming period.”

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