I do not understand all the excitement that exists in the Syrian affair. For me, it was clear that once the Syrian government's control of coastal areas was reduced, inland areas would end up "under someone else's control". So far, there were a thousand US soldiers and Kurdish forces patrolling part of the territory, but it was a clearly unstable equilibrium.
It was an unstable equilibrium because a real defense of the territory can take place if:
- There is a state authority behind the garrison troops.
- If it does not exist, an external body provides state authority to the troops.
The second case is the case of occupation, but obviously there is also that of the "zone of influence". The disputed part of Syria could be under the influence of three countries: Syria, IRAN, Turkey. Since Syria is too weak to oppose Turkey and IRAN it is committed to another front, Turkey has come forward.
It was practically mechanical of things that Erdogan tried to take control of that area. Turkey being historically complicit in ISIS, and being Erdogan an Islamist who dreams of a "Saudi" Turkey, there is no question of ISIS men returning home as soon as the prisons where they had been closed are opened.
The spark was due to the decision of the "Kurdish army" to allow itself to be integrated into the Syrian forces, which effectively brought the region under the control of Assad. And that forces Assad to send reinforcements to "his" army. It would be the first "ally" not to betray the Kurds by resigning themselves to the promises as all the others have done: the Russians, who know how strong such behavior is, (Russia has never been an alliance in recent history ) will support Assad in supporting the Kurds.
This move by the Kurds was quite surprising for the American, Turkish and European chancelleries, but it is the result of the patient work of Russian diplomacy.
The rest was the usual western media short circuit, which led to several strategic errors.
- USA withdrawal. If the Turks occupied the Kurdish areas, the Kurds would only have to retreat to "calmer" areas. The problem is that the "calmer area" is the Kurdish area of the IRAQ. As a result, the US cannot really withdraw and pretend nothing happens, since a withdrawal of the Kurds to the IRAQ would destabilize the country. That at this time of contrast to IRAN, the USA serves stable. Huge mistake, which will be paid later.
- The arms embargo. Turkey's dependence on foreign weapons is now minimal, and is limited to some last-generation systems. It is not even clear by how much. Stopping the export of weapons is a symbolic act, but it changes practically nothing and only serves to "make it advent".
- Threatening economic retaliation. Nothing for Nothing: Erdogan caused an economic catastrophe, as did Putin, and giving them the excuse "you are hungry because of the wicked foreigner" only serves to make it more stable internally. Another "symbolic" act of very little relevance.
The sale of weapons to Kurds could be significant. If someone sold arms to the Kurds, or threatened to do so, Erdogan would probably have to stop. Start threatening to sell medium-range tactical missiles to the Kurds, and Erdogan must stop by force: he cannot afford to see a missile fall on any city Turkish. But coincidentally, the proposal is not on the table.
Which tells us one thing: it tells us that nobody really wants to put pressure on Erdogan. But everyone has to make people believe that they are doing something.
But what is the reason for this attitude especially in Europe?
It seems hard to believe, but it has to do with Brexit and backstop. Imagine for a moment that you can sign an agreement, for which the British leave Europe, but it remains a part of the "United Kingdom" that acts as a proxy. Of course we all know that the solution would be anything but "temporary": once they leave the EU, since the British do not have any of the 750 commercial treaties stipulated by Brussels in the last 40 years, they would do nothing but use them by opening "proxy" companies in Ireland of the North, and then trading "from within the EU". On the other hand, the EU would have the power to close the proxy at will, and therefore could always threaten to close the game and take the ball away if British companies exaggerate. An almost perfect equilibrium, and just for the "proxy" the billions will begin to flow, the proxy will become definitive and permanent.
That said, let's go back and look at two countries: Turkey and Ukraine. In the case of Turkey, there is a piece of Turkey that is on the European continent, and clearly one could think of a Turkey that does NOT enter the EU, but has a proxy: once the precedent is established, and once the jurisprudence, it becomes a viable solution everywhere. You take a stretch of territory, decide that it is under both jurisdictions, and replicate the model.
And the model can be replicated out of proportion: once applied to the British, the latter could be the Turks. And you understand, then, that if you want to go and discuss a "backstop" solution, it's better not to be too enemies.
But the word "backstop" refers to the English, due to the peculiar "brexit" situation. Surely in the case of the Turks it would be called in a different way. There may even be two, given the situation in Cyprus.
But the "backstop" model does not stop there. There are several other very "comfortable" situations, if someone manages to clear customs on Turkey. Here, for example, I see two:
One is called "Moldova" and one is called "Odessa", that ledge below.
And there are others: take a look at Kaliningrad
The "backstop" model, if we remove the entire history of Brexit, can be easily reused to transform situations of conflict in situations of relative trade, without thereby signifying admission to the European Union.
It is just a matter of adapting it to a political proposal, after showing that it works in the English case, and convincing the Turks to do so. Turkey is the ideal zero patient, given that in theory it is still a member of NATO, and there would be no resistance from the Scandinavian countries as in the case of Kaliningrad (which in order to become a dual jurisdiction zone needs more " positive examples ": I see it after Turkey and Ukraine, honestly).
If you think about it, the Backstop solution is designed for:
- Giving a double sovereignty over an area that is not very profitable after all.
- Make it a commercial proxy where "play" to choose which treaty to use from time to time for export / import.
- Maintain border control on both sides, ie control the migration flow (as required by English).
In the case of Turkey, applying such a model to the "European" zones (all or in part) or to the case of Cyprus could save both goat and cabbage. EU and Turkey would apparently remain separated, each "clinging to their own values", but at the same time could trade almost as if Turkey had entered the EU.
Extending this system from that moment would be simple: if it worked in the UK before and in Turkey later, the backstop system would have such a range of scary political applications.
But it needs to work first with the English, and then a "zero patient" like Turkey is needed.
No one will ever do anything against Erdogan. Because all the chancelleries are hoping for a proxy system such as the "backstop", in order to have the success story to sell to Ukraina first, then Russia, and who knows how many others, from Morocco to Norway. A low profitable area (and previously problematic, perhaps) to be sacrificed is enough.
The whole point is: with Turkey they want to trade all Europeans, but nobody wants it in Europe. Exactly like the English. The "backstop" situation, with dual jurisdiction and the double boundary (beyond the symbolic aspects) is the win-win situation, and it is reusable (mutatis mutandis).
The illusion that someone will do anything in order to stop Erdogan, beyond the symbolic aspects, is completely stupid. Only those who have the world order of the 1980s in mind can believe a similar lie.
Let's go to Erdogan's threats:
- I send migrants to you. It would be nice if it could work, but this would cause a mass migration that would have to cross Turkey before arriving in Europe. With the risk that Hungarians will block everything with barbed wire and keep them in Turkey. Recently threatened.
- The terrorists arrive. With the electronic monitoring system now in place throughout Europe, such a thing could hardly happen. It happened years ago, but now the terrorists in Europe move little and badly.
- I am embargoing you. Erdogan needs others to do it to him, to justify the economic disaster in which Turkey finds itself. It cannot really worsen the conditions of its citizens with unilateral, if not symbolic, action. So at most it would be a symbolic act.
In reality, the press is talking little: moreover, it is not even a question of "Ottoman ambitions" of Turkey: the disputed areas are border areas that have very little economic or strategic importance: Erdogan needs them to show some victory to the its citizens, given that in the last elections it has lost popularity.
Moreover, I repeat, if they wanted to stop it, the threat of selling medium-range missiles to the Kurds would suffice. But they don't.