Turkey’s grand plan in Syria
British newspaper Financial Times on Monday published an article titled “Syria: what is Turkey’s grand plan?” in its Big Read section, where it runs longform stories with in-depth reporting and explains key themes in world news.
At least 9 million Syrians, including the refugees inside Turkey now fall under the responsibility of Ankara, said the article, signed by Andrew England and Laura Pitel.
The newspaper analyzed the reasons and consequences of a possible Turkish military offensive into northern Syria depicting an extensive view of the Turkish controlled areas in Syria vis-a-vis the international status quo.
Turkey pays the salary of more than 50 thousand Syrian rebel fighters
“In the three areas under Ankara’s watch, Syrian schoolchildren learn Turkish as a second language. The sick are treated in Turkish-built hospitals and the lights are kept on by Turkish-generated electricity.” Financial Times said and added that Turkey trains and pays the salary of more than 50,000 Syrian rebel fighters.
The Syria intervention is costing Ankara about $2bn annually, according to Murat Yesiltas, an analyst at Seta, a Turkish-think tank with close links to Erdogan and his government. He says Ankara is grappling with the contradiction between Turkey’s professed desire for a unified Syria — not least to prevent any form of Kurdish state — while at the same time realising that “Turkey is . . . ultimately undermining the potential territorial integrity of Syria.”
He says the “current map” does not allow for an exit strategy for Turkey, while suggesting that taking Tal Rifaat and Manbij would bolster Ankara’s longer-term security and economic aims.
A fragile stability with frozen front lines
James Jeffrey, a former US ambassador to Turkey and former Syria envoy told the FT that neither Russia nor US aimed to pull out of Syria any time soon. He believes the status quo suits all the external actors if it maintains a fragile stability with frozen front lines. “They would rather live with this messy military commitment that doesn’t achieve anything other than block the other side from winning and creating more dangerous security situations for them,” the FT cited Jeffrey as saying.