Aydemir Güler writes: What is the problem in Syria's Idlib?

"Idlib is definitely a crucial point. In terms of Turkey, it seems a matter of existence. Trying to gain time without knowing what will happen in the future...The foreign policy of AKP's rule in Turkey is this"
Sunday, 09 September 2018 23:10

Aydemir Güler, a columnist of soL news, wrote on the impasse of Turkey's ruling AKP government regarding the issue of Idlib. Güler reminds that the only policy of the AKP is gaining time in Idlib and discusses why the parliamentary main opposition party CHP's definition of Idlib as a matter of national security points at the same direction that AKP follows.

What is the problem in Idlib?

Turkey's Republican People's Party (CHP) [parliamentary main opposition party] stated that they considered Idlib as a national problem of security and even demanded: "safety of non-terrorist groups is secured". This quite radicalizes Erdoğan's truce by constructing it as a matter of cease-fire. Thereby, CHP calls the long-forgotten spirit of the 1998 Adana Agreement. Of course, the US is also part of it. How else can we interpret sharing Astana, Sochi and Tehran with the US and the demand of "handling the negotiation in a broader context"?

Since all these are not enough, the US is made part of the collaboration. The thing gets out of hand in the last article: "Turkey's tighter grip on the groups that can provoke the Syrian rule" so that Turkey does not get any military harm. A classical CHP attitude...

After the Tehran summit, İbrahim Kalın [the presidential spokesperson] said Russia and Syria cannot take the risk of an operation as long as Turkey's military presence in Idlib continues. If this is not Kalın's personal imagination, this statement means Turkish armed forces (TSK) units will aid as "human shield" to the jihadists if Damascus heads for Idlib. CHP takes this nonsense for granted and builds a reasonable basis for it.

No one should think that the opposition [CHP] represents the common sense since AKP's condition is the worst of them. [Pro-Kurdish] People's Democratic Party (HDP) demanded the tension should be decreased so that life safety of the civilians is guaranteed and, within a single statement, both noted that a solution can be found among the local sides without any foreign pressure and also called on everybody, particularly the UN, to contribute to the process. When the proposition of creating an independent force is considered along with these statements, they suggest minimally that an international military surveillance should be created...

AKP is in a devastated condition. The condition of the opposition is not much better. It is better to evaluate all things together.

First of all, although there is no need at all, we have to talk about it because of CHP. 1998 Adana Agreement was based on the discharge of PKK [militant Kurdistan Workers' Party] from Syria. The presence of the US behind this agreement gets crystal clear when Turkey's threats including an occupation back then in addition to the following developments are considered as well. The US considers Kurdish political movements as an ally for quite a long time and there is no single development in 2018 that can remind the situation that existed 20 years ago. If CHP is trying to show that CHP itself is no less than AKP, given its 'wast' party history including DSP [the social democratic left party] in terms of threatening a neighbouring country, then it is all right!

Secondly, the recognition that Idlib is a matter of security for Turkey needs to be undone. The first connotation of the word security regards the population that may run away towards the border of Turkey. The population in Syria is above 18 million now and AKP's calculation of 3-4 million new refugees is a fabricated number. The population in Idlib is around 1,5 million. There did not occur great population movements in the final phase of the Syrian army's jihadist cleansing. The immigration is a phenomenon of the period when Syria was attacked mainly by Turkey. Of course, some certain population movements are possible, despite the exaggerations. However, a counter population movement seems more likely when Idlib gets cleared off the jihadists.

By the way, if Turkey is sincerely worried about a new inflow of refugees, then it should first of all withdraw forces deemed as intruders by Damascus, terminate its relation with the FSA [Free Syrian Army] gangs and prioritise border safety of Turkey. Providing humanitarian aid in case of an inflow to the border is something else. Even in such a case, the fact that Turkey is not fair towards millions of refugees in Turkey and makes use of them as a bait in chauvinistic attacks should be reminded.

To continue with the second issue, it needs to be said that the soldiers should be withdrawn if they are worried about the life safety of the soldiers at the cross-border. As I have mentioned above, AKP's approach suggests using Turkish soldiers as "passive human shield" against a Russian-Syrian operation. The real cause of this security problem is laid bare.

A final point on the second issue is more plausible: The AKP rule stealthily insists on playing the role of a protector for the jihadist gangs in Idlib. Protecting the civilians is a pure demagogy.

Thirdly, thus, if AKP's policies are to be criticised and alternatives are to be created, this demagogy should not be credited. Much to that, it is politically quite clear that the civilian population in Syria, including much of the ones that once supported the war against Damascus, are weary of war and would be pleased to see the central power that represents stability and peace prevail. The protection of the civilians is important and the most critical protection would be the discharge of important jihadists.

Fourth, Idlib is a Syrian land. As several other commentators note, AKP's "accusation" that Assad wants to "seize" this land is absurd and aims for the dumb. This argument that has no diplomatic value is, in fact, a message to the western imperialism, mainly the US. AKP is open to western imperialist support in Syria.

Fifth, for an opposition that seeks political alternative and consistent criticism, one has to keep away from the US attempts to enlarge its position in the Kurdish region. Syria is Syrians and control of the Damascus rule in the region is legitimate. The only thing that can be said to the ones that control Idlib is that they have to surrender.

Sixth, all the sides except for Ankara has been discussing post-Idlib. I will talk about the exception of AKP towards the end but at this point, we can say that the issue in Turkey's claims is not "non-terrorist Islamists" but the Kurdish region. Russia has so far told Ankara to "make use of such a group if there are any" and all AKP has been able to find is the FSA jihadist militants to whom it provides salaries. And the FSA will side with the one who pays for them in the following period.

Regarding the Kurdish factor, there is nothing CHP can obtain by outsmarting AKP in the issue of nationalism. That area has an owner. HDP can compete with AKP in the issue of pro-Americanism for a while. However, since the politics have become an unprincipled issue in this hot zone, no one can predict the outcome.

Seventh, the negotiation of Damascus with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) will follow the Idlib issue. It is clear that it will be a rough process. It is impossible to define any actor as a "local side" without first getting rid of the US patronage and the threat of Turkey.

Eight, all foreign military forces should get out following the discharge of jihadist gangs so that the peace in Syria is secured. We know that the conflicts have become a proxy war, especially after Russia stepped in. This tendency may possibly gain a new dynamism when the country's reconstruction by the Europe, Russia and other countries in the region gets into the agenda in the future. The initial remedy is demilitarisation in the sense that all foreign forces leave the country. Undoubtedly, saying that Russia that stepped in with the call of Damascus is a pure peace force is a lie.

Ninth, demilitarisation in the sense that all foreign forces leave the country cannot be completed only by this step itself. The Middle East is a geopolitical whole and a struggle for peace has to secure Syria. Without strengthening the quite weak anti-imperialist stance in the region, it will be impossible to stop Islamist reactionism, Israeli militarism and all types of imperialist interventions.  

Finally, I would like to talk about the exception of AKP. Although the AKP, whose demagogy of truce was undone by Russia quickly, has the card of releasing refugees to western Europe, it cannot make a progress from that. Migration happens in an extent as directed and filtered by the imperialism. It is possible to release millions but its price will be paid by the spoiler.

Then the sole policy of the AKP is gaining time. It is obvious that Damascus will make use of the argument of "intruder Turkey" when Idlib is saved. One of the prices the US will ask for then will be Erdoğan's chair so that it can make use of counterbalance on behalf of Ankara. In addition to that, whether or not the Turkish armed forces-FSA gets hold of a region in Syria, no one can prevent the question how the jihadists are concretely backed being asked. Here the war crimes of the AKP is written in bold!

Idlib is definitely a crucial point. In terms of Turkey, it seems a matter of existence. Trying to gain time without knowing what will happen in the future...The foreign policy of AKP's rule in Turkey is this.