What’s Behind Turkeys Latest Manouverings in Northern Syria?
Turkey’s Erdogan is concerned that its ambitions to be the regional leader, holding the balance of power, and winning the doctrinal war is slipping from his grasp while at the same time fearful of a potential Nuclear-armed Shia Iran who has been re-energized following the United States ignominious retreat from Afghanistan, leading potentially to a Tehran-led archipelago of Shia power and influence Stradling Irans Afghan border through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. Thus expelling Turkish influence from the Middle East and thereby sealing Erdogan’s domestic fate and loss of power.
To the extent that Iran achieves its goals to dominate the region, Turkey at a minimum will have to enhance its own strategic position to maintain a balance of power in the Middle East. It may already be too late for Turkey to realize its re-emergence as the dominant country in the Levant.
Erdogan may attempt to play the Russia card by trying to convince Putin that it’s in his and Russias best interest to stymie Iran’s Middle Eastern ambitions by throwing their weight behind the Ottoman re-emergence.
Should Erdogan flirt with the Russia card he may find himself playing Russian Roulette with all chambers loaded. Putin an expert at playing one side off against each other is very well aware of the shortcomings for Russia becoming entangled with either Sunni Turkey or Shia Iran knowing full well neither of these historical enemies holds any love for Russia nor is their regional plans aligned with his countries own ambitions for the Mediterranean Basin.
Where does this leave Erdogan? In a word ‘no-mans land,’ he will most likely continue to be frustrated in his foreign policy ambitions for the Middle East and see his strategic goals frustrated at every turn by those most closely allied to Turkey.
While Turkey will remain a bit player in the great game and could emerge as a serious risk to the peace of the region it will only achieve a watered-down vision of Ottoman greatness as a cog in the larger alliance of Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Still, Erdogan will not stop exploring every avenue in the hope he may find a way to fulfill his imperial / Islamic foreign policy.