04:02 GMT03 April 2020
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    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported US President Donald Trump in defending US and NATO interests in the Syrian war, to ensure the withdrawal of American troops. Trump admitted that the American troops remaining in Syria are there exclusively for the oil reserves. But what is Turkey currently doing in Syria?

    A prominent Turkish politician said that Turkey is conducting military operations simultaneously in Syria and Libya. But for what purpose? Former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis explains how Turkey's position has changed since the beginning of the war in Syria.

    "Turkey initially did not intend to fight in Syria against Syrian soldiers but became too active in Idlib, where it defended armed Salafi jihadist groups. However, now Turkey has no intention of abandoning them, and continues to protect them", the politician notes.

    Why does Turkey allegedly support jihadists in Syria?

    The former minister believes that this is intended to enable Turkey to influence the situation in Syria and to gain a firm foothold in the negotiations on Syria's democratisation process, noting that Turkey's ultimate goal goes further.

    "Turkey seeks Bashar Assad's resignation", Yasar Yakis stresses.

    But who is coming to replace Bashar al-Assad?

    According to Yasar Yakis, Turkey expects to bring to power the military groups of moderate views that share the philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood*. But does Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have a strategy for getting out of the war in Syria?

    "We do not know exactly what the exit strategy to the crisis in Syria is, but at the moment we are talking about creating a zone to be controlled by Turkey along the Turkey-Syria border and allowing refugees to settle there. The Turkish government will build housing on a 30-40 kilometre wide strip along the Turkish-Syrian border", the politician says.

    However, according to Yasar Yakis, Erdogan's level of support in his own country for actions in Syria poses a problem:

    "Support for Syrian policies has long since fallen below 50% in Turkey. I think that about 30% of the Turkish public supports these", he notes.

    The Turkish president also recently talked about replacing Russian aviation patrols in the Syrian sky with Turkish aircraft, but the question remains as to the purpose of such bold statements.

    The former Turkish Foreign Minister believes it could be some kind of bargaining. The parties, in principle, always start with maximalist positions. This may be the goal that Turkey is seeking to achieve. However, the politician says he cannot imagine Russia accepting it.

    Answering the question of why Turkish forces are fighting and suffering losses in Libya as well, along with Syrian jihadists who were sent there by Turkey, the politician believes that in doing so, Turkey may have wanted to solve two problems at once.

    "Turkey may have wanted to kill two birds with one stone. First of all, to find a place for the militants who were blocked in Idlib and, secondly, to use these militants in Libya for Turkey's interests", Yasar Yakis concludes.

    *the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    Tags:
    Erdogan, Assad, Idlib, Syria, Turkey
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