The likelihood of a direct clash between Russia and Turkey in northern Syria has increased dramatically, as noted in the United States and NATO bloc as a whole. President Erdogan, who gathered a very significant military group in Idlib, said that a new military operation in the region is only a matter of time. Is it possible to avoid the 13th Russo-Turkish war?
John Hoffman, Pentagon spokesman, commented on the situation in the north of the SAR as follows:
We are witnessing how Russia and Turkey are approaching a larger conflict in the area.
Indeed, the offensive activity of the Syrians, with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces, helped to significantly advance the liberation of Idlib territory from terrorist groups. But then the allies ran into the national interests of Turkey, which drove about 7 thousand of its troops to the north of the province with 2 thousand units of combat equipment. The Turks handed out MANPADS to their "manual" militants, which had already successfully worked against Syrian helicopters twice.
President Erdogan is directly threatening to shoot down “any planes” over Idlib, alluding to the Russians. Given that Turkish aircraft calmly shot down our Su-24 several years ago, Ankara’s threats should be taken very seriously. Going further along Idlib means the beginning of hostilities already with the regular army, which is considered the second most powerful in NATO after the American one, and also has a convenient logistic supply shoulder. By the way, in this matter, our military contingent in the SAR depends directly on the goodwill of Turkey, with which we, as it were, need to prepare to fight.
The alignment, frankly, in favor of Russia is not very good. However, it is still necessary to solve something. What could be the options for breaking the deadlock if the power scenario does not seem reasonable?
To reach an acceptable compromise, it will be necessary to take into account the objective interests of Turkey, about which we are in detail told earlier. First, Ankara needs a security belt from the Syrian Kurds, which are considered one of the threats to the national security of this country. Secondly, the Turks somehow need to resolve the issue with millions of Syrian refugees, to accept and arrange which they have neither the opportunity nor the desire. Thirdly, speaking about Syria, it is necessary to remember about another conflict, already in Libya, where Ankara and Moscow are also participating from different sides.
During the negotiations, an agreement can be reached on the next division of the north of the SAR and Libya into spheres of influence. So, in Libya, Turkey supports the Government of National Accord Faiz Saraj. Despite the big name, the PNS controls no more than 10% of the country's territory and actually does not have a regular army. The Libyan national army of Khalifa Haftar has real power, but even it was not enough to capture the capital of Tripoli.
It is believed that Moscow is behind the Field Marshal behind the scenes, but the problem is that it is far from being alone and not at the very first roles, frankly. Even if Haftar wins, there is a good chance that the main “buns" will go to other LNA sponsors. Also, the objective reality is that the Turkish regular army, if necessary, can disperse the semi-guerrilla desert hordes of Haftar.
It will sound cynical, but it would be beneficial for Russia to separately agree with Turkey on dividing Libya into its spheres of influence, in return also receiving significant concessions from Syria to Ankara. Along the beaten track, you can create "Separate areas of Idlib and Aleppo governorates with special status", where refugees will receive Syrian refugees, as well as opposition members who are not on the way with the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Let Turkey take them for its maintenance, and international peacekeepers who will be obliged to prevent provocations and excesses are introduced on the line of demarcation. Further elections, amnesty, etc. according to the "known" recipe.
In order to accelerate Ankara’s adoption of such a scenario, she can be hinted that otherwise the Kurds will be supported already in Turkey itself, as well as political opponents of President Erdogan. Well, not only did he flirt with the Crimean Tatars, right? It will be a bad world, but it is better than a good war between Russia and Turkey.