Deutsche Welle: in A week that the Turkish military has fought against the troops of Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad in Idlib. Then the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has on 5. March with Assad’s main backer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, to the truce agreed. This lasts for. As long as the weapons remain silent?
Guido Steinberg: so Far, no telling how long the truce holds. However, it is clear that Syria and its Russian, Lebanese, and Iranian supporters have decided, in the Idlib province back to take. Everything that we see there at the moment, are a battle of Retreat for Turkey and its allies. I’m firmly convinced that it will be in the course of the summer fighting, and that the great Offensive, which was begun in April 2019, will eventually lead to success for Bashar al-Assad.
What is the role of the possible spread of the Coronavirus in the Idlib Region?
It is quite possible that the Corona epidemic in Syria leads to the fact that the combatants act in the province of Idlib a little more cautious. In particular, the Assad Regime has to worry about how it gets its very few troops able to fight. However, one can assume that the epidemic is not, in itself, lead to the battles. So far, it seems not so, as the troops of Assad would be decimated regime significantly. It is primarily the refugee civilian population will be affected in the Camps.
President Erdogan knows that he can slow down the Offensive of Assad against the wishes of Putin and without support from the West only, but not permanently stop. Should support the NATO Erdogan, in order to protect the people in Idlib? And also, Europe has a humanitarian duty to help?
There is a humanitarian responsibility of the Europeans. However, they should fulfil this responsibility only with the relief efforts. This civil war is ended. The NATO or the EU want to intervene, then that would have been years ago possible. Now this is not just against the Background of the Corona pandemic is realistic. We also see that Turkey has promoted in the last years in Syria by Islamists – at the Moment it is the organization Hayat-Tahrir al-sham (HTS), which prevails in Idlib. It is the successor organization to the Al-Qaeda supporter Nusra Front. It would not be right if the West would intervene on the side of such an organization. The Europeans and Americans would do well to accept that this civil war is decided. Turkey should do the same and support the insurgents give up. And the insurgents should be required that you disconnect from Idlib. Because they are – like Assad – just as for the suffering of the population responsible.
what do you mean when you say that the insurgents are “the same” for the suffering of the population as rulers Assad, bombed the population and hospitals in Idlib in April 2019?
Hayat-Tahrir al-sham is a terrorist organization that is for good reason on the terrorist list in many countries, also in Germany. For my review, however, is especially crucial that the citizen has lost the war. The attempt of the insurgents to keep Idlib and its support by the Turkey, leads to the suffering of the people is extended. Of course the Assad Regime is primarily responsible for the Outbreak of the civil war. The Regime is also a predominant part of the victims and for the cruel war crimes. Nevertheless, you have to say at some point that this conflict is not to win. The Free Syrian army has led the way in the early days of the war more frequently, as it is in such situations: If, at the time, the Assad-Regime marches in the area of Homs, on places, and to be feared was, that it comes to larger bombings, have not drawn the insurgents back from time to time, in order to put the civilian population in the focus of the regime. That would be the right thing to do. However, such a policy of Turkey and their Islamist allies, is not expected at that location
In Idlib life in addition to the terrorist HTS, other insurgents, and many of the democratic opposition, which at the time were evacuated in the province. How to look like a future for these people under Assad, then?
It is perfectly clear that Assad will take the province. Therefore, the question of the future of the rebels in any case. I think the only option you have in order to survive or to escape capture with unpredictable consequences, is that you draw in the Turkey’s back. It would also be logical, as Turkey has supported since at least 2012. It is part of the reason that Islamists have put themselves among the insurgents by since 2013. You would have to record, therefore, the insurgents and a growing number of refugees as well. No matter which scenario you think is most likely, is not to prevent an escape of the shaft. People will flee to Turkey, the only question is whether Turkey opens the border then.
Erdogan wants to prevent the case Idlibs to the Assad Regime at any price. Why does he hold it?
For 2015, there is a new priority in Turkey’s Syria policy. This is to prevent the local offshoot of the PKK, the so-called people’s defense forces, gaining strength, and a state-controlled-like Structure. It also would result, in my view correctly, if Turkey focuses on it. The Erdogan government is trying to help but still the insurgents, in order to control a kind of bridge-head in Syria, so that every political regime in the country involved. This policy, although the civil war is decided, is the main reason why we see this disaster in Idlib is now, especially with the Corona epidemic in the country. Turkey could ensure that the insurgents stop fighting against the Assad Regime. It does not. Because it comes to save the remnants of their Syria policy, however, this is a rearguard action, and the Turkey is losing this conflict.
Turkish foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has already indicated that areas to the South of the pass road of M4, which are currently controlled by rebels, to Russia. It is a small area would be left, which is still controlled by militias that are allied with Turkey. However, this area would not be independently viable and almost completely dependent on international aid. How realistic this is?
I don’t believe in solutions, in which Turkey controlled the territory to the insurgents in Northern Syria. The Assad Regime is determined to all parts of the country to take. It may take me a while, but Syria and its Russian and Iranian supporters agree that they want to occupy the entire territory. There is no solution that the Turkey retains control of any areas in Nordidlib. This is a rearguard action by the Turkish government, with which they would like their continued relevance in negotiation evidence. Turkey will also remain relevant, but they will continue to come under pressure in this area to abandon.
Guido Steinberg is a middle East expert at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und politik (SWP) in Berlin. From 2002 to 2005 he was lecturer for international terrorism in the Federal Chancellery.
The conversation Diana Hodali led.
author: Diana Hodali
*The contribution of “Idlib province: “The Turkey is published lose this conflict“” from Deutsche Welle. Contact with the executives here.