Putin's Proxy War

Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Syria's dictator Bashar al-Assad (AFP)

  

Russian leader turned to his scenario of humanitarian and political crisis in Europe he successfully implemented in 2011.


 

The land lies in northwestern Syria on the border with Turkey. The nearly one-third arable land of the country covers the Jabal an Nusayriyah, on the north by the Turkish mountain region. The population favours the western slopes with the Mediterranean climate of the region abundant in rainfall. Northwestern Mountains is the only densely forested region. These region has been traditionally home for Kurds, whose language is similar to Persian and culture to the nomadic one that originated from Abraham's homeland. In short, Kurds share neither religion, lifestyle or mindset of Turkey. For a nationalist as Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the existence of such a nation at the border of his country constitute a strategic threat.

In February Turkish leader ordered its Army to push Kurds away from its border. But Ankara knew that they would be targeting Syrian army, not Kurds. Last year in November, Turkey's enemy signed the pact with Syria dictator Bashar al-Assad and Russian leader Vladimir Putin after the US President made the unfortunate decision to withdraw the US Army from Syria. According to the pact, Kurds allowed Syrian troops to deploy along the border with Turkey to stave off a military offensive by Ankara. Two weeks ago Ankara allied with the rebel groups which Russia and Syria perceive as their foe and decided to fight against the Syrian Army.

Putin and Assad with systematic carpet bombing attacked the Turkish army and its allies. But the most victims of these unscrupulous tactics were ill and children as bombs targeted hospitals and schools. The local reports transmitted by the Syrian Observatory stated about the intentional attacks against the medical centres. On Thursday night Russian jets dropped bombs on Turkish military convoy. Ankara informed that thirty-free soldiers died in the attack. Russian state TV earlier accused Turkish military specialists in Idlib of using shoulder-fired missiles to try to shoot down Russian and Syrian military aircraft. But the Ankara denied the accusations.

The United Nations assessed that Russian and Syrian bombardment forced 900,000 Syrians to seek refuge. At least one of third of them were forced to leave their shelters for the second or third time. Specialists warned the fighting in Idlib could potentially create the most serious humanitarian crisis since the civil war's start in 2011.
 
Putin's proxy in his escalation of the war against the West

Until Thursday, Ankara blocked its borders to stop refugees from entering Europe. But this policy changed. "We have decided, effectively immediately, not to stop Syrian refugees from reaching Europe by land or sea," stated a senior Turkish official in an interview with Associated Press. "All refugees, including Syrians, are now welcome to cross into the European Union."

Undoubtedly Turkish President Erdoğan has been disappointed with a lack of help from NATO. But he did not launch systematic bombardment of settlements in Idlib that forced Syrians to escape. The military offensive against civilians that must end with humanitarian crisis mirrors actions of Mr Putin in 2011. The cruel and brutal operation against Aleppo and surrounding cities triggered the biggest wave of refugees. After Turkey opened its borders Greece was not able to stop hundreds of thousands of hungry and aggressive refugees who ran to Germany. The uncontrolled inflow of asylum-seekers created a friendly atmosphere for populist from the extreme right and left. It was major factor which significantly weakened European Union.

In February 2020, Vladimir Putin is trying to repeat this scenario. He put NATO before difficult choice. If NATO will get involved Mr Putin and his alive and cyber bots on the political scene and social media will exploit this fact as an act of aggression of the West. He will undoubtedly not hesitate to strangle Russian dying economy. Russian budget will finance as many bombs as possible to pressure economies of the West. Perhaps he may use the escalation in Syria as an excuse to attack the other targets in Europe like Ukraine. If NATO stays aside Mr Putin will manipulate Turkey to distance it even further from Europe. He will also increase propaganda against NATO claiming that it is useless, costly and outdated organisation.

It becomes clear that conflict between Turkey and Syria is Putin's proxy in his escalation of the war against the West.

The Alliance understands it. On Friday NATO Secretary Mr Jens Stoltenberg expressed full solidarity with Turkey. Mr Stoltenberg also stated that Alliance will support Turkey but he did not reveal details.

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