President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Wednesday it was only a matter of time before Turkey launched a military operation to stop Syrian regime attacks on Idlib. He reiterated his determination to transform the border area into a safe zone.
So what happens next? Will Turkey start a new operation? What is Russia's position?
There have been talks with Russia with no clear results so far, but I believe Moscow does not want to confront Turkey on Syrian soil. Turkey has been a good partner for Russia and vice versa. Likewise, both collaborate on many issues beyond Idlib. So, I think there still ground for negotiations.
However, the situation in Idlib continues to get worse. The offensive of the regime has displaced some 900,000 civilians, including half a million children. Hundreds have been killed. There are no proper health facilities, and hospitals lack basic equipment. On top of that, people's basic needs are not being met, leading to a worsening humanitarian situation.
Thus, it has fallen on Turkey to stop the mass killings and the evacuation of the city; however, Ankara has been left to do this on its own. It is time for the U.N. and the West to voice their opposition to the Bashar Assad regime's aggression.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric Tuesday said, "People are on the move in freezing temperatures in search of safety." If the fighting reaches the densely populated areas, the losses will be immense. The Syrian regime has not just taken control of two key highways, its cold-blooded army continues to conduct mass killings.
So I think the difficult situation Ankara is facing should be recognized by the West. The Syrian regime backed by Russia is violating the Sochi and Astana agreements. Turkey is naturally concerned about another massive influx of Syrian refugees. As a result, Turkish efforts are focused on protecting civilians and stopping a wave of migration. Unfortunately, talks between Turkish and Russian delegations have yet to see lasting results.
But I think they will find a solution. Turkey does not want to move its observation points and Russia does not want to cut off its support for Bashar Assad, but both sides see that they have more to lose than to win if they end their partnership. It is not in Moscow's interest to see a war between its two allies. So it is up to Russia to find a solution to hinder further confrontations.