Many important developments are happening on the Syrian front.
It has become clear that Russia will present a “Transition with Assad” plan at the meeting in Vienna on Saturday. This is different from the “Transmission with Assad” plan suggested by Erdoğan. According to the plan, the parameters of which were explained by a government official, this period would be followed by a six-month transitional period. In the meantime, a unit made up of Syrians would prepare the country for a post-Assad period. Assad would then be divested of his intelligence and armed forces roles. Syria would then prepare for elections while Assad's fate was decided. The questions of his being tried as a war criminal or not, or whether he would relocate to another country, and identifying this country would be determined.
This was the plan President Obama conveyed to Putin.
While Russia continued operations in Syria, a meeting was conducted in Vienna with the attendance of the US, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The meeting in Vienna clearly showed that Russia and Iran, who took the Assad regime under their wings, are refusing to discuss a “Transition without Assad.” The amazing part is that, Iran is abstaining from foreseeing a Syria or a transitional period without Assad. Besides, Russia who claims that they can discuss a “Syria without Assad,” is in favor of a “Transitional period with Assad.”
Therefore, the Russian plan contemplated on being presented during Saturday's meeting is not surprising at all.
Russia is suggesting a transitional period with Assad. They do not oppose a structure, made up of Syrians, that involves Syria going to an election and a transitional period. But there is a crucial point here. Russia wants the transitional period to be under Assad's control, and wants Assad to be guaranteed as a candidate in the elections. We can call this a “saving Assad” plan. The only point that can be urged is the declaration of a ceasefire.
As a political solution isn't provided in Syria, military options are brought into consideration. In my article titled “ A big operation is coming” published on Monday, I touched upon the operation preparation on Jarabulus. President Erdoğan confirmed that there would be an operation on ISIL, whether with a coalition or alone. Erdoğan said he discussed this issue with the US President Obama. Prime Minister Davutoğlu, in his interview with Amanpour, said, “ We need a strategy integrating air and ground operations. Turkey cannot assume this burden alone.”
Upon Amanpour asking a question in regards to the ground offensive, Davutoğlu made this statement, “A ground offensive is something we should discuss and share together.”
A joint operation, conducted by Turkey and the US, on ISIL in Jarabulus, is now on the agenda. Turkey claims that a result cannot be achieved with merely air operations as evident from Davutoğlu saying, “ An air operation, a buffer zone, a no-fly zone, have been our suggestions from the very start.”
The ground offensive is the most strategic circle in the operations to be conducted on Jarabulus. The crucial question here is; will the Turkish military join the ground offensive?
Whether Turkey will join the ground offensive or not, is currently being discussed.
A big operation to clear Jarabulus from ISIL is currently in preparation.
Some of the elements of the operation have become clear.
1- Turkey-US joint air operations will be conducted. Turkey will join this operation with its war crafts from its Diyarbakir and Malatya military bases, and its unmanned combat air vehicles. It is planned for the operation to include 60 aircrafts.
The US is strengthening its air power in Incirlik. It has been stated that the F-15-Es will soon be in Incirlik.
Six more UAVs will be added onto the already existing four UAVs. 12 KC-135 tanker aircraft will be deployed to Incirlik before the operations start. 12 tanker war craft mean that there will be heavy and continuous bombardments.
It is said that before the operation on Jarabulus is conducted, the US called Russia and said, “This operation isn't aimed at the Assad regime, but at ISIL.”
The most critical circle of the operation is whether Turkey will join the ground offensive or not.
I am researching the answer for this question. Turkey, considers a mutual plan be made toward ISIL in order to obtain results. If the US enters a ground offensive, so will Turkey. A “Possibility Plan” has been planned. I would like to share a point here. “Possibility Plans” for both situations are readily planned.
If we are to only join air operations, then the “Possibility Plans” are ready. Yet if we decide to mutually conduct an air operation, then plans are ready, and the forces needed are waiting at the border.
The plan that is currently on the agenda is: The US and Turkey will conduct intense air operations while the Free Syrian Army, Arabs and Turkmens living in Syria fight against ISIL on ground.
Turkey wants to sit at the table in which the status of Jarabulus will be determined after it is cleared from ISIL. Jarabulus is a vitally important area in terms of preventing PYD's plans in the area, reaching the Turkmens and housing refugees.
Chief of Defense, Hulusi Akar, visiting the Incirlik base is move made towards achieving this purpose.
Well, under which condition will Turkey join the ground offensive?
If the US takes part in a commensurate and powerful ground offensive, Turkey too, will join the offensive with an effective power. However, if the US symbolically enters the ground offensive, then Turkey will not take part at all.