Has the Tide Really Turned?: “Post-Coup” Turkey’s Role in the Syrian Conflict August 13, 2016 Analysis, Op-ed By Samer Hussein Lately, there has been much of confusion, surrounded with disinformation and rumours as regards the future role of Turkish State in the Syrian conflict. We’ve been hearing all sorts of strange things – from how Erdogan will suddenly become Syria and Russia’s close partner and ally in defeating the terrorism problem to how he will suddenly, along with Russia start to provide the counterbalance against NATO-bloc, etc. There even was a rumour that he will lead Turkey to BRICS. Let’s just analyze some things: On Monday, August 8th 2016, just a day before meeting with the Russian president Vladimir Putin, Erdogan gave an interview to the Russian press agency Itar Tass in which he stated that the Turkish side cannot work and cooperate with the “regime” of the Syrian president Bashar Al Assad. At the same time he once again expressed support for the terrorist organisation Al Nusra, one of the most repulsive actors in the Syrian conflict, best known for systematically murdering Syrian civilians and burning them alive in Adra in December 2013, as well as dozens of terrorist attacks, beheadings, sectarian attacks, massacres and kidnappings of the Syrian civilians (Full interview can be read here). Having said that, it’s perfectly clear that the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not want the conflict to finish and thus cannot be seen as the new Russian-Syrian ally in the war against terrorism as some “experts” on the ongoing conflict would want us to believe. Erdogan’s statements therefore come to no surprise, given his past and present actions. Since the alleged “coup”, more than 30,000 terrorists have entered Syria from Turkey. The majority are believed to be the Turkish nationals, especially if we obey the fact that a significant number of the terrorists killed by Syrian, Russian forces and Hezbollah turned out to be the members of the turkish ultranationalist terrorist organisation “The Grey Wolves”. Alongside them, many of the recently fallen terrorists were identified as the citizens of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China (they were Uyghur terrorists from Xinjiang province). Also Saudi Arabia. On August 1st, 2016, a Russian military helicopter was shot down by Al Nusra terrorists while flying above the Al Nusra-held territory in the Aleppo province. Given Erdogan’s proximity to that very same terrorist group, it is therefore not too difficult to notice that he is far from wanting to end the conflict in Syria or becoming a new powerful player on the BRICS axis. And while we are at BRICS, we must mention that currently this is absolutely not the place suitable for Erdogan’s Turkey. Turkey is a member of NATO. At the moment Turkey is also ruled by Erdogan’s regime that has so far taken several moves hostile to some of the BRICS members, namely Russia and China. On November 24th, 2015, the Turkish military shot down Russian military jet while flying on an antiterrorist mission, while still being inside the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. Not only the jet was shot down – the pilot was captured and delivered to the members of the local Syrian-Turkmen Grey Wolf branch led by the notorious Turkish terrorist Arpaslan Celik, who later executed the pilot. Despite fully violating international law by downing the Russian jet inside the Syrian territory, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly refused to apologize for both, the downed jet as well as the murder of the Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov. Another thing why Turkey cannot become a full-fledged BRICS member is also the fact that it is heavily involved with the members of the illegal East Turkestan terrorist movement. The latter have become increasingly active in the last few years in fighting against the legitimate Syrian Army and they also make up a visible number of all terrorists killed in Aleppo province in the past few weeks. There even is a Uyghur colonist settlement in the occupied Syrian city of Jisr al Shoghur. As many as 3500 Uyghur terrorists and their family members are allegedly living there. When Erdogan was meeting the Russian president Vladimir Putin on August 9th, 2016, there suddenly was a lot of talk about how the two will reconcile and how the now post-coup Turkey will become an important and powerful regional player that will greatly help to shape up the geopolitical spectrum in favour of the so-called “anti-imperialist/anti-atlanticist” forces. None of that turned out to be the case. As regards the foreign policy, no particular worth-mentioning solution or agreement was reached during that meeting. There actually is a rumour that there was a closed meeting on Syria crisis between Putin and Erdogan alone. It was believed to have lasted 2 hours. The outcome is not (yet) known. Other than that, the two main reasons why the meeting actually took place. The first one is the realisation of the gas pipeline deal which was obstructed by last year’s downed jet incident and the second one is the lack of tourists in Turkey. The Turkish economy greatly depends on tourism and as most European tourist are now gone due to safety concerns (the number of trips to Turkey offered by European tourist agencies has also drastically fallen due to terrorism-related incidents in the last few months), Erdogan is now somehow trying to get at least the once very profitable Russian tourists back in the country. Apart from that, many of Erdogan’s wishes and desires were left unfulfilled. The Russian side did not turn the tide on Syria and started taking a more “moderate” stance towards the notorious Ankara-backed terrorist groups such as FSA, Ahrar Al Sham, Jaysh Al Fateh, Al Nusra, etc which is the long-time wish of Erdogan. The Syria situation was somehow “postponed” to another meeting. It’s clear that this is the issue where the two sides cannot agree on the basis of the circumstances given and thus Turkey cannot be seen as the new actor in resolving the Syrian crisis. There’s been a lot of talk that the “post-coup” Turkey will become something significantly different from what we have known so far, given that all the “bad apples and rotten eggs” are now gone. But if we take a closer look at the whole thing, we can see that after more than 3 weeks of the thwarted “coup”, there are still no notable changes. The flow of terrorists from Turkey to Syria continues as it always did, the Erdogan’s administration is still beating the drum of Assad’s departure as the one and only solution to the end of conflict, all of which brings us to the question: was there really a coup that got thwarted? The only visible change since July 15th 2016 is the arrest of a considerable number of turkish military and police officers, former politicians, academics (all of the academics were also barred from leaving the country), teachers, journalists, activists, writers, musicians etc…many of whom have nothing to do with the Gulenist movement that has since denied any involvement in the alleged coup. Even more, according to the news on Armenian paper Asbarez that were published on August 2nd, 2016, Erdogan’s violent purges have now also reached the already stigmatized Armenian community in Turkey. What would the Armenian guitar teacher have to do with the Gulenist movement??? Nothing. This is just one of the many examples how Erdogan is exploiting the situation in his own favour by getting rid of as many opponents as possible, all under the guise of “saving his country from the pawns of the Gulenists”. It is therefore no wonder that Erdogan referred to the alleged “coup” as the “God’s gift” on several occasions. Now we know why. Apart from that, a considerable number of people who volunteered themselves to “thwart the coup” were identified as hardcore Turkish and non-Turkish Salafi/Wahhabi Islamists, many of whom have previously fought against the Syrian army in Syria. Many of these people were involved in some of the most gruesome actions, such as decapitating soldiers who were allegedly the “coup plotters”. In reality, majority of these soldiers were local conscripts and were only following orders from above. The “coup” itself was also executed on a highly amateurish level. For example, the jet that was sieging the plane carrying Erdogan suddenly ran out of fuel, hundreds of thousands of people, foreign Islamists including, suddenly took out to streets when the time came, etc… Absolutely no memories of the 1970s/80s Latin America and East Asia coups can be recalled here. Besides, why would the Western powers orchestrate the coup in the loyalist NATO state with a shared foreign policy, especially as regards the Syria and the Donbass situation? Even if there was such thing as the “coup”, it would nevertheless be a legitimate move against Erdogan regime as long as it would be carried out in the appropriate way of course. Ousting Erdogan regime would be highly beneficial not just for the region and more particularly Syria, but for Turkey itself as well. Let’s not forget that prior to Erdogan regime’s involvement in coordinating the terrorist groups that operate in Syria and are being nursed in Turkey, Turkey did not have islamist-terrorism related problems. Ousting such regime would therefore help to preserve peace, stability as well as the rule of international law. Unless having a particular (hidden) agenda against Syrian government and the military, it is highly naive to say that the Erdogan regime will all of a sudden become Syria and Russia’s new partner and ally in their fight against terrorism, given it’s past and current actions and statements. Whoever was supporting the terrorism in the most repulsive way from the moment when first shots were fired back in March 2011, helped to loot 1300 factories in Aleppo province alone, trained FSA, Ahrar al Sham, Al Nusra and according to some rumours even ISIS and made business with them (it has often been discussed that so far the Erdogan regime made billions of dollars by smuggling the oil from ISIS-held Syrian oil fields, even Erdogan and his family are said to be behind that business), cannot become “the key ally in fight against the evil” overnight. Such radical shift in Syria politics would also be very difficult to explain to the Turkish general public. Erdogan’s no change in stance on Syria can best be seen how suddenly all the border crossings with Syria got open, right after the members of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces announced full defeat of ISIS in Manbij. In best case, the purpose of such meetings is to tell Erdogan regime to stop supporting terrorism. Long story short: there will be no significant changes regarding the Syria situation. Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved.