Turkey has flirted with Russia since they last collided in 2015 over conduct of the war to save Assad of Syria. This looks like repeating itself as the Russians and Syrians gear up for the bombardment of Idlib. The Russians, as noted in the previous two blogs, seem to be preparing for the likelihood that Assad will once again use chemical weapons, which the Americans have vowed to avenge. But more concretely the Turks have been moving men and equipment over their border into Idlib province to ensure that the Syrian régime does not blast the 3 million population into seeking escape into neighbouring Turkey.
Nezavisimaya gazeta today appeared with an article arguing that “Disagreements about the operation in Idlib will bring Russia and Turkey back to 2015” (“Bashara Asada vyveli za krasnuyu chertu”, 10 September 2018). It has never been in Turkish interests to see Assad stabilise his absolute control over Syria and however much the Turks have played along with the Russians and the Iranians these fundamental differences remain. Geopolitical interests are driving Turkey back in the direction of Israel and the United States. The trouble remains, however, that the government of Turkey is intent on destroying democracy within the country and this makes its continued presence within NATO and its relationship with the United States problematic.