Russian President Vladimir Putin has just publicly declared that Turkey and Russia have agreed to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib which will have a depth of 15 km, to be ready and in place by October 15th. This is effectively a ceasefire, with Turkish forces and Russian military police that will conduct joint patrols towards the de-escalation in Idlib.
Russia’s Defence Minister Shoigu has just publicly stated: there will be no military operation in Idlib.
FRN previously raised the possibility of Turkey securing Idlib on its own, then working towards using this possibly to acquire territory or make a better deal with Russia. It appears the second has happened, as we forecasted. Our general operating thesis that ‘things are never as they appear’ was confirmed as well.
FRN cited that only China had stepped forward to save the Turkish economy, and that China would not move against the strategic interests of Russia and Iran at this time.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met behind closed doors in Sochi. Here they apparently discussed the situation in Syria’s Idlib province, one of the remaining Al Qaeda strongholds, with significant backing by Turkey, known in the west as TFSA – Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army.
Then after the talks between Putin and Erdogan, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu publicly announced that Russia would not in fact be conducting a military operation in Idlib. Shoigu said the following to reporters, holding the memorandum on Idlib settlement signed by him and his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar in his hands for the photo-op.
“In the next few hours we will coordinate all the issues set forth in this document with them [Damascus authorities],”
The high level meeting happens now about a week after the extremely important Russia-Turkey-Iran summit in Tehran, where the ceasefire guarantor states focused on the question of the Idlib de-escalation zone. It is also highly probable that if Turkey had been planning this with Russia from the start, which is likely enough, then the plan for Turkey to give an ‘anti-military action’ line at the UNSC meeting was staged. At the same time, there is nothing inconsistent with Turkey’s agreement in Tehran, the new announcement today, and the statements they made at the UNSC which appeared to support the US and go against Syria, Iran, and Russia. The parties from the start had been clear that they were searching for ways to minimize risks for the civilian population related to the counterterrorism operation.
What will happen next?
The US will certainly be displeased by this, and will now resort to last ditch efforts to use some sort of false flag operation with a splinter group working closer or more directly with the MI6 and CIA in Idlib, to carry out an attack on Russian forces nominally under the auspices of the ‘Syrian National Army’, the reformed TFSA which Turkey backs.
This will be similar to previous scenarios, and will be used to create the simulacrum of a breakdown of the Turkey-Russia deal, and somehow justify some ‘attack’ by the US under optimal conditions for the US.
Syria will likely only accept this as a temporary move. Turkey’s Al Qaeda/TFSA/SNA forces in Idlib will slowly be matriculated out of Idlib and into Turkey. Others will be left behind and there will be attempts to make an ‘SNA’ under Turkish authority, and Russian toleration. With the situation pacified and normalized, then a political, economic solution will be required for Syria to achieve this part of regaining their territorial integrity. Significantly, this will remove any pretext for FUKUS (France, UK, US) to act militarily under any pretext, as there will be no military action starting from the outside of the city, moving in. Rather, Russian forces will be invited in, and the Turkish military will slowly come to lead the SNA more overtly, with their adviser and regular soldiers integrated into the command, which in fact has been something of the case for some time.