HMM: Turkey-Russia ties move beyond tactical.
This dialogue has had three main results so far: First, Turkey has had to accept the remaining of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, prompting a radical change in its policy. Ankara has also had to acknowledge that both Iran and Russia have put down their roots in Syria for a very long time, both politically and militarily.
Second, Turkey’s alignment with the Russia-Iran duo in Syria has led to a further souring of its ties with its traditional Western allies, namely the United States. Moscow’s permission for Turkey’s fight against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin worsened a crisis between Ankara and Washington, whose ties were already strained over several other sources of tension. Strong-worded criticisms also came from European powers, which have questioned the real motives of the Turkish military campaign in Syria. Despite these reactions, Turkey now feels freer to launch new operations in eastern Syria at the expense of further risking its ties with NATO partners. Turkey’s plans to procure S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems from Russia should also be evaluated with this in mind.
Thirdly, cooperation with Russia paved the way for Turkey to become a hard power in its region. Turkish troops are currently in the Idlib, Afrin and al-Bab regions of northwestern Syria, with the government vowing that the next targets will be east of the Euphrates and even northern Iraq.
Putin gets what he wants: Assad stays in power and Russia enjoys a position in the Arab Middle East it hasn’t had since the mid-’70s; and Erdogan gets to indulge his neo-Ottoman fantasies in northern Mesopotamia.