Erdogan’s Newfound Love For Assad

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, December 18

The diplomatic race over who will have more political clout in Damascus is officially on. Turkey, which has tightened its relations with the Syrian regime during the past year, has become one of the leading contenders in this race. This is a somewhat new development since Ankara has historically been supportive of the Syrian opposition, not the regime. Indeed, it is safe to say that the final collapse of the Syrian opposition occurred not due to Russia’s intervention in Syria, nor due to Bashar al-Assad’s attacks against opposition strongholds. It was the fact that Ankara pulled away its support for Syrian dissidents and destroyed the political infrastructure on which these group relied. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to put his country on a new path of realignment with Syria and Iran. He turned his back to the White House and joined hands with America’s biggest foes in the region. There have even been discussions of potential arms deals between Ankara and Moscow, despite American demands against such sales. This becomes all the more alarming when one considers the fact that Turkey is a NATO member that is supposed to be committed to U.S. interests in the Middle East. But Turkey has long neglected these commitments. In fact, some might describe what is currently happening in Syria as a direct war between the U.S. and Turkey. While the former is arming and funding anti-Assad Kurdish militias, the latter is actively fighting them. Meanwhile, Moscow is pushing and promoting its own plan for a Syrian ceasefire, which continues to undermine U.S. interests in the region. Given the current situation on the ground, it is safe to say that Washington has lost its battle over Syria. –Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed

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