Turkey grows erratic as clashes in Idlib escalate

A sort of lunacy prevails in Ankara regarding Turkish foreign policy on Syria. The Turkish military casualties in Syria’s Idlib and the advances of the Russian-backed Syrian government forces have led the Turkish administration into a frenzy that betrays a lack of rationality and sobriety — two essentials in foreign policy-making.

By Cengiz Candar

Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Movement Party, is the quiet strongman of the current power distribution in Turkey. Without his support, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would not have been able to win the 2018 presidential election, which paved the way to tighten his grip over the judiciary and the security establishment.

Bahceli has a reputation for virulent speeches, but his latest talk on Feb. 11 was one of the weirdest. Bahceli called on Erdogan to “conquer” Damascus to take revenge against the Syrian regime after the Turkish death toll in Idlib reached 14. “The Turkish nation should go into Damascus,” he said in an address to his parliamentary group. “Let’s burn down Syria; let’s demolish Idlib.”

The following day, Erdogan warned that Turkey will strike Syrian government forces “anywhere” if any more Turkish soldiers are harmed in the last rebel bastion. Erdogan’s remarks came just after his phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Feb. 12.

While Erdogan was issuing these warnings, his cronies had already declared war against the Syrian government. The editor-in-chief of the pro-government daily Yeni Safak declared Syria a war zone from “Aleppo to Qamishli.” “Everywhere from Latakia and Aleppo to Qamishli is a target. The operation era is now over. The war era has started,” staunch Erdoganist Ibrahim Karagul wrote Feb. 12 even before Erdogan’s speech.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar manifested a similar rage during his interview with The Associated Press on Feb. 11, a day before a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels. He said Turkey expects NATO and Europe to take “concrete” steps against the Syrian government’s offensive in Idlib. FOLLOW THE LINK TO READ THE REST OF THE INTERESTING ARTICLE