Turkish President Erdogan announced that his country was commencing a new military operation in Syria's Idlib province to implement the "de-escalation zone" there that was agreed upon at the last Astana meeting, which could either end up being a coup de grace for his armed forces or a quagmire. On the one hand, Turkey was indeed successful in its previous "Operation Euphrates Shield" when it dislodged Daesh from a small corridor in northern Syria, but this time the terrorists are cornered in a pocket of northwestern Syria and are expected to fiercely fight to the death, unless, however, they surrender first or melt in with the internationally recognized "moderate rebels" like they were accused by some of doing the last time.
Idlib is so important to ending the conventional military phase of the War on Syria because it's become a nest of Al Nusra-affiliated terrorists over the past year, and with Daesh facing imminent defeat in the coming months, the region would inevitably be forced to confront this menace sooner than later, hence why it's so crucial to get a head start on this operation. That being said, Idlib is also extra sensitive in a geostrategic sense because it's so close to Russia's Khmeimim base in Latakia and also Syria's largest pre-war city of Aleppo. Moreover, the Syrian government has voiced suspicion of Turkey's true motives on many occasions, fearing that it might have ulterior reasons for getting militarily involved in the Arab Republic without Damascus' formal approval.
Although Syria and Turkey don't have any official relations on a public level, there have been reports that Russia has been intermediating between them, and after all, Damascus didn't disagree with the outcome of the last Astana meeting which decreed the forthcoming implementation of the "de-escalation zone" in Idlib, so it's possible that things aren't exactly as they may seem at first glance and that a cautious Moscow-facilitated rapprochement of sorts might be playing out behind the scenes. In any case, Turkey's Idlib operation is a make-or-break event that will either end as a powerful coup de grace demonstrating the anti-terrorist prowess of the country's armed forces, or a debilitating quagmire if Ankara gets caught in a terrorist trap that it wasn't adequately prepared to face.
Andrew Korybko is joined by Steven Sahiounie, Syrian-American journalist, and Serap Balaman, Turkish political commentator.
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