(Very) Preliminary Thoughts on Attempted Military Coup in Turkey Re: the Syria War & Assad’s Fortunes
Supporters here in the US of military induced regime change in Syria and/or the use of direct military force by the US/NATO and/or the Turkish military towards the same end are having a particularly bad time of it lately:
— Assad is broadening his acceptability ratings in the Western media… no matter how odious he may be, he is on an upswing and is getting his desired message across more effectively than ever (no matter the untruths on NBC the other day).
— Right wing and neo-isolationist trends in the US and Europe are broadly receptive of Assad especially vis-a-vis ISIS and the threat of so-called “radical Islamic terrorism.”
— European security agencies are directly coordinating now with Assad’s government. The recent visit to Italy and vice versa (according to Arabic media) is but one public example.
— Aleppo may fall to Assad and his allies and at least is in a more perilous state than ever before.
— Team Obama may be willing to militarily team up with Russia in Syria and may be willing to draw a harder line against rebel groups who seem to fight with Nusra and ISIS – or who have similar ideological leanings.
Now the two main regional enemies actively trying to bring down the Assad-Hezbollah-Iran-Russia axis are both on their back heels: Saudi Arabia, hit by terror attacks, financial woes, some unprecedented labor unrest, an unprecedented sidelining (and some media/political attacks) by the US, growing rumors about a succession crisis/fight and a destabilizing/unsuccessful war in Yemen; Turkey where the military may have just pushed out Assad’s number one public enemy, Erdogan.
It is true that in the last few weeks, Turkey seemed to re-orient itself to Assad, and distance itself from the Syrian Rebel groups. The U Turn on Russia was also a blow to Assad’s enemies. Was this with Erdogan’s full consent? Was a further progression along these lines stymied by Erdogan, leading to the coup? Were purely domestic factors involved (the Kurdish-Syria War nexis is a blurring, in any case, of domestic/foreign affairs…)?
Taken together, it seems very early in this that if a military coup is successful, Assad et al. are likely to benefit even more than they already are these days, five years into the Syria War.
An incredible turn around for Assad seems to be crystallizing, although so many were confident he would fall in 2011, and though at several points in 2015 he did seem on the verge of a collapse.
Whether this turn is good or bad is a whole additional debate – but for now it seems as if structural factors are moving in Assad’s favor such that we may see a denouement of the Syria War mostly in Assad’s favor.
One is now left contemplating what seemed unthinkable even recently for some analysts: If the Turkish military actively opposes the Syrian rebel groups that use Turkey as a media/political/diplomatic/intel/military staging ground, then these groups may be effectively cut off from their strategic depth. All of them – ISIS, Nusra, Ahrar, Jaish, FSA etc – would have only Jordan as a conduit, which could put enormous added pressures on the kingdom, pressures that the King likely does not wish to take on and which he would likely actively oppose across the board.