There is no doubt that both Russia and the Damascus administration – and, according to some claims, Iranian militia forces on the ground – knew the location of Turkish troops. As is its custom in multilateral joint military operations, Ankara had the locations where reinforcement troops would be deployed in the region “coordinated in advance” in order to prevent clashes.
In other words, Russia is lying. Iranian militias and Russia, which is backing them, have the blood of Turkish troops on their hands.
Also, as of Feb. 3, it is clear that Ankara-Moscow relations, which have reached a strategic stage with the Astana-Sochi processes, have been severely wounded – but they will live.
Countless experts and commentators in the country and abroad have throughout the years evaluated and analyzed not only the stage the two countries’ relations have reached but also their influence over one another on strategic matters.
Trade, tourism, the Black Sea region, the Balkans, Middle East, especially Syria, Libya, defense industry (S-400s), energy (nuclear Akkuyu and energy transmission lines), etc. The list can go on. As a matter of fact, two items beyond these: Turkey’s NATO membership and conditions protecting Russia’s presence in the Mediterranean well explain the extent of relations.
Then “WHY” did Russia feel the need to conduct such a forward attack?
What’s more is that all communication channels between Ankara and Moscow – military, intelligence, ministers, state leaders, relevant institutes, organizations – were completely open? As a matter of fact, there was communication with Damascus intelligence leaders, for which the foundation was laid by Russia.
We can see that this question lacks an answer.
On the evening of Feb. 3, the “experts” that made television appearances, without any exceptions, were asking each other, “why, but why?” (It is dramatic, we can tell when we are pushed.)
Explanations such as the Turkish president being scheduled to make a visit to Ukraine on the morning of the night the attack took place, the dispute concerning Libya or protecting the Damascus regime alone, that a result is near in Syria and hence tensions have risen, or simply that Russia “cannot be trusted anyway” cannot be compared to attacking Turkey.
The following questions should be asked:
Was Pentagon’s desire to revive relations with Ankara on the “safe zone” in northern Syria discussed during Supreme Allied Commander Europe Tod Wolters’ Turkey visit?
Was there any mention of the future of Russian troops’ presence here? It is already known that U.S. and Russian troops frequently intercept one another, come face to face. Thus, have the terrorist elements that continue to maintain their presence here come to the table? We do not know, nor do we ask. (Turkish press covered Wolters’ visit in relation to the new beret Chief of General Staff Güler wore during the welcoming. It was not concerned with anything else.)
Russia’s final goal with respect to Syria is not a secret: to constantly expand Damascus’s control in the border areas. However, the explanation to “why now” is that these developments seem to have led to concern in Russia that Turkey-U.S. relations may jump to another phase.
Meanwhile, this heinous attack was not the start of everything. Everyone knew that there were underlying tensions between the two countries, that Ankara’s patience was up. That is why President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made the statement Friday that military force may be used in Idlib if necessary.
Moscow responded to these complaints: it made statements that Russia is committed to its promises, that it fulfilled its responsibilities in Idlib, that it adhered to the Sochi deal. These statements, which initially appear as though they will make amends, were perceived in Ankara as “superficial.” This was the reality. Kremlin was showing attitude.
The U.S.’s stance concerning Idlib should also be explained: it does not want Idlib to fall in the hands of Russia or Damascus, the Iranian militias being active here or for it to form the Mediterranean-Iran line.
“The U.S. condemns the Assad regime, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah’s constant and ruthless attacks on the people of Idlib. We stand by our NATO ally Turkey against such actions. We fully support Turkey’s legitimate self-defense actions,” it said in a statement.
It does not seem very likely that Ankara will act in unison with the U.S. in northeast Syria. The U.S.’s terrorist organization relations are still intact. Pentagon’s track record is obvious and it does not seem to get any better. However, the impact of what will happen in Iraq is very important. On the other end of the map, Turkey needs to strive with the refugee problem.
In short, Russia must step back, because Turkey is going to remain in Idlib.
Above all, we have lost our children. Our state, the Turkish Armed Forces have “duties” toward out martyrs and their families, while we continue to pray for them.