Aleppo: Between Erdogan and Putin

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Wed 10 August / Aug 2016. 09:53 PM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

It is difficult to outline a precise description of the military situation in Aleppo today, with the conflictions in news and media biases to one party over another. But there seems to be a crucial Russian-Iranian persistence to bolt the vital hole poked by the opposition south of the City, as they strive to sustain the breakage of siege in Aleppo, in spite of violent Russian bombardment.

Some analysts say that Aleppo’s recent unfoldings are outcomes of the Russian-Turkish presidential summit between Vladimir Putin and Recep Teyyip Erdogan in St Petersburg the day before last. And on that base many speculations and propositions regarding the outcomes of this summit; which, in my estimation, is too early to tell. The relationship between the two states, after Erdogan’s apology and Russia’s positive reaction to the failed coup, is still under construction as well as much cautious examination.

Without presuming the outcomes of deliberation between security and military officials from both countries, which is only natural to normalisation; the Russian position on Syria has not changed, but is contrarily, furthermore rooted to support Assad and reinforce cooperation. More so, the reaction to events in Aleppo, including the heavy bombardment, as well as in Idlib, is standing proof that the Russians will not only “not allow” Assad to fall, but will invest radically in the global and regional atmosphere to reconstruct the Aleppo siege, and force the residents there and the opposition to surrender, which finishes off a major part of the Syrian opposition, and reinforce the Regime’s military resource on the ground, as well as on the negotiation table.

The fundamental change, on contraire, was in the Turkish position on Syria: While the failed coup has indeed outlined a turning point in foreign Turkish policy, yet to clearly surface in the region, the precursors to this shift were beginning to show with Erdogan’s apology and normalisation of Turkish-Israeli relations as well, which was before the thwarted coup which only added to the Turkish president’s sense of isolation and fear of shifts in European and US approaches as the deep fracture embosses internally.

Typically, Turkey’s drivers to change are not exclusive to Erdogan’s internal priorities to rearrange the house and overcome his rivals in this fatal phase, especially Fethullah Gullen. But they also include many the necessity to address limitations on Turkey’s foreign alliances, in light of the rising possibility of Putin actually becoming an ally against Western manoeuvres and what Erdogan considers American bluffs.

This, at all, does not necessarily mean that Erdogan and Turkey have sold out on the Syrian opposition, but it definitely means the Turkish position has become more complicated in regards to the Syrian situation. For while Erdogan wants to secure the Syrian opposition, for a multitude of strategic and personal reasons to with Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party; he now has to do with without coming into direct confrontation with Russia, in an attempt to neutralise the Syrian question in the development Turkish-Russian relations.

Here lies a predicament; in the new Turkish discourse. The issue is comprised in the difficulty to do so; neutralise the Syrian situation, that is, as well as in Putin’s overwhelming urge to militarily put an end to the Syrian conflict and reach a settlement that serves Russian interests in Syria as soon as possible. More so, in Putin’s inevitable perseverance to invest in the weakened Turkish position, now, to reinforce the Military battle.

Accordingly, these developments reflected on the Aleppo battle. Putting aside Turkey’s role; without which the siege would not have been possible in the first had Turkey’s role not receded; and even though some point to an indirect Turkish resurgence to breaking the Aleppo siege, undoubtedly, the next few days would sufficiently lay clearer grounds to anticipating Turkey’s role, if the frontier was to reignite, as the Aleppo battle remains a critical phase to much developments in the Syrian conflict.