Russia and Iran hold nominal sovereignty over Syria. To complicate matters, Kurdish forces and indigenous Syrians trained and led by American forces have created border security guards to alleviate Turkish incursions into northwest Syria. But on Friday, January 19, Turkish led artillery began shelling Afrin, a city bordering Turkey/Syria. Its clear that Istanbul’s own offensive at clearing Kurdish enclaves throughout northern Syria sought Russian acquiescence. If anything, Turkish incursions have deeply complicated Russian ability for peace talks or de-escalation zones within Syria.
Turkey isn’t happy with Russia’s vision of a post-war Syria, so the incursion into northern Syria is aimed at scuttling Russia’s sovereignty over Syria.
Two points to consider going forward. One, how is Washington going to settle its unwieldy ally in Ankara while fortifying Kurdish buffer-security zones along along the entire contested border between Syria/Turkey. Both components invoke the wrath of Moscow, Tehran and Ankara.
What’s playing out in Syria is the envelopment of a weak Assad. Yet in remains to be seen if this current settlement of geopolitics benefits Russia, Iran and the Turks.
The Institute for the Study of War is following these moving arrangements.