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03 martie 2020 - Special reports - Weekly review

D.S.M. WEEKLY REPORT - Main Political and Military Developments (WEEK 9 of 2020)

Sandu Valentin Mateiu

I. AFGHANISTAN. The United States and the Taliban sign a peace agreement. II. SYRIA. Autocrats fight an “unrecognized” war with impact on Europe. III. UNITED STATES / RUSSIA. Washington maintains support for Ukraine and the international law. IV. SLOVAKIA. Parliamentary elections. V. Developments to track this Week 10 of 2020.

Sursă foto: Mediafax

English version by Mircea Mocanu

I. AFGHANISTAN. The United States and the Taliban sign a peace agreement.

The longest war in U.S. history (and Romania’s too) is inching to its end. The United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement ending this war, and chances are that the second war, the Afghan civil war ends too, as the two conflicts are related. For the Afghans, this agreement represents a chance for a peaceful future, for the United States it marks the end of a conflict triggered in search for terrorists and turned into a nation-building war. For America’s NATO allies this end of war marks fulfilling a support mission, mandatory for the members of this “most successful alliance in history”. For Romania, this is an important phase in its strategic partnership with the U.S., which guarantees us a secure future (simply put among soldiers,  “For he today that sheds his blood with me / shall be my brother”)[1].

In circumstances where a pre-agreement of violence-free seven days was complied with, on February 29th, a peace agreement was signed in Doha / Qatar. This accord establishes an agenda for American troop withdrawal in exchange for Taliban commitment to several security arrangements, mainly renouncing violence and beginning negotiations with the Afghan legal authorities in Kabul. The document was signed by U.S. special representative Zalmai Khalilzad, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of Taliban political wing. According to their joint statement, the United States and NATO will withdraw their troops deployed to Afghanistan within the following fourteen months: after an initial withdrawal from current 12000 to 8600 servicemen in the next 135 days, the U.S. and its Allies will further withdraw all their troops within fourteen months, provided the Taliban maintain the non-violent stance and make progress in their intra-Afghan negotiations. Although American and Taliban representatives avoided to confirm, rumors has it that the peace agreement includes several secret annexes stipulating: 1) a continued American military presence in Afghanistan, with  counter-terrorist detachments; 2) the Taliban denounce terrorism and extremism; 3) a truce monitoring mechanism is established for the duration of intra-Afghan negotiations; 4) the way CIA will act in Taliban-controlled territories.

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who witnessed the signing ceremony along with other thirty significant officials, including the Pakistani Foreign Minister (thus showcasing Pakistani endorsement), warned that “We are just at the beginning... A significant reduction in violence will create conditions for peace, and the absence of it the conditions for failure”. Pompeo stressed that the Afghans need peace and prosperity (plus women rights implemented!), while the United States wants to be sure that another terrorist threat will not stem from this country. The U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who offered in Kabul a joint statement with the legal Afghan leaders regarding the American troop withdrawal, declared that the United States would not hesitate to nullify the deal if the Taliban did not uphold its end. "If the Taliban upholds the agreement, the United States will begin a conditions-based, and I repeat a conditions-based, reduction in forces". He pointed that this moment is crucial for the peace process. President Donald Trump, who scores an important success with this agreement (which accomplished his promise to end this war and bring the American soldiers home) presented the road-map summary: "These commitments represent an important step to a lasting peace in a new Afghanistan, free from Al-Qaeda, [Islamic State], and any other terrorist group that would seek to bring us harm,... ultimately it will be up to the people of Afghanistan to work out their future... We, therefore, urge the Afghan people to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future for their country". Trump warned the Taliban that, should they fail to comply with the agreement stipulations, the United States will react promptly. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the agreement as “a first step to peace”. There are expectations that “intra-Afghan negotiations leading to an enduring and comprehensive peace agreement that puts an end to violence, safeguards the human rights of all Afghans, including women and children, upholds the rule of law, and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists”. On this backdrop, NATO announced that “the Alliance and its partners in the Resolute Support Mission will implement conditions-based adjustments, including a reduction to our military presence”.     

The Taliban underlined they observed the non-violence pre-agreement and announced they would begin discussions with the power in Kabul. Although Afghan government was not present at the signing ceremony, a group of six Afghan officials were present in Doha ready to start official talks with the Taliban, through the Taliban Representation Office operating in Qatar since 2013. The cornerstone of this agreement is not only cessation of violence, but also the way the negotiations progress between the Taliban and the power in Kabul, considering that, hitherto, the Taliban refused to talk with the Afghan government, which they deemed it was a puppet of the United States. The main concern is that the Taliban will use again violence to obtain political concessions from the authorities in Kabul[2].

The question is whether the agreement will hold. Probably yes, considering that the document would have never been signed if the parties did not want it implemented. The problem persists though, and its name is the negotiations between the power in Kabul and the Taliban, which are crucial, and the withdrawal calendar hinges on progress of these negotiations, both for U.S. and NATO troops. The Taliban acceptance to talk to Kabul authorities is important and necessary, but it is not enough. In order to have the two Afghan parties reach an enduring agreement, they must find a common denominator regarding the way future Afghanistan will look like! In addition, there is the lack of unity in the Kabul power, and this increased after the announcement that the Pashtun Ashraf Ghani won the presidential election, which was denied by the rival ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks. While the disunity of the power in Kabul is a negative element (the absence of a united position of the legal authorities in negotiations with the Taliban), this situation also shows a bright side: the Pashtun camp in Kabul, led by Ghani, can easier have dialogue with the Taliban, also Pashtuns, just kept off the power for now. In addition to the traditional Afghan ethnic rift (Pashtuns, Tajiks and Uzbeks) and religious rift (the Shia Hazara), a second cause of the long-standing Afghan war was the essential foreign support from Pakistan. This state created and constantly supported the Taliban, although always denying this. Trump Administration was needed to call things by their name in this respect without diplomatic restraint and it warned Islamabad: stop this double game of friends, but in the same time supporters of those who kill our soldiers in Afghanistan. Only thus Islamabad facilitated / endorsed this agreement[3].

It is important that the road to peace has been opened, although the itinerary will have meanders. Thus, President Ashraf Ghani announced that the power in Kabul would not free the 5000 Taliban prisoners by March 10th, which the United States has promised (in exchange for 1000 Afghan security servicemen held prisoners by the Taliban). The power in Kabul will likely yield, as result of American pressure not only upon the Taliban. Hoping that Romanian soldier withdrawal with unfold without problems, we are happy to envisage that the situation in Afghanistan will likely cease to be in our close-up interest (since we are interested only in what might hit us).

Now, at the end, we should spend a moment to remember and pay respect to them, all those who fought with honor in Afghanistan, in the middle of nowhere, and firstly to those who lost their lives and those who were wounded, albeit visible or not.


II. SYRIA. Autocrats fight an “unrecognized” war with impact on Europe.

In Syria, four autocrats came to play: a sectarian bloodthirsty dictator – Bashar al-Assad, a cynical interventionist – Vladimir Putin, seconded by theocrat Khamenei, and another autocrat, equally arbitrary in his decisions – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Their policy brought Hell on Earth in Idlib to cause thousands of victims, almost a million refugees and a grave regional instability. Turkey and Russia want to avoid a direct conflict, but their policy still threatens to generate a new wave of refugees steering towards Europe. We now witness the situation where a group of dictators / autocrats who have little or nothing to do with Syria is sowing, and Europe is harvesting! (even Bashar, “his father’s son”, leading the Alawi sect, only 13% of Syrian population, is not the legal and legitimate leader of Syria). 

Everything began with Bashar al-Assad troop offensive in Idlib, supported with strong bombardments by Russian aviation, including against civilian population. These operations caused  thousands of victims and a wave of refugees whom Ankara did not accept to welcome anymore. So, Damascus and Moscow breached the Astana agreement regarding the establishment of de-escalation zones, leaving Turkish observation posts isolated in territories recovered by Bashar’s troops[4]. Damascus and Moscow leveraged the detail that Ankara took no measure to eliminate the Jihadists in this region, but their objective is visible: to cleanse the territory of Sunnis and establish an “Alawi territory”… all across Syria (only ethnic cleansing by mass removing Sunnis can secure stability for Bashar al-Assad regime, and Ankara’s toleration of jihadists is the ideal motivation for pursuing this goal). Turkey reacted by giving an ultimatum to Damascus to withdraw its troops to the initial contact line (marked by the Turkish Observation Posts) or Ankara will start its offensive. In this respect, Turkey deployed important military formations and armed the rebels in Idlib. Their counter-offensive led Damascus to lose control of the important line of communication towards Aleppo, the M5 highway. Fights started between Turkish and Bashar’s troops, with Damascus drone-coordinated artillery attacking Ankara’s convoys, and Turkish forces heavily responding after each such attack. Although using a threatening rhetoric, President Erdoğan acted cautiously, paying attention to his friend / adversary Vladimir Putin’s reactions and hoping to reach an understanding with Russia.

However, the instability peaked on February 27th, one day before the ultimatum deadline, with an attack against Ankara’s troops causing 34 Turkish soldiers killed. Ankara reacted toughly, on several planes, but avoided naming the most likely author of the air attack on its troops, Russian aviation. First, Ankara accused Damascus for the attack and responded by artillery fire. Then, Erdoğan accused Russia for failing to comply with Astana agreements. He continued a series of discussions with Moscow, including a phone conversation with Putin on stabilizing the situation, but to no avail, as Moscow stalled and resumed its own accusation regarding Ankara’s toleration for terrorists in Idlib[5].

In order to solve his problem with Putin, Erdoğan appealed to the United States and NATO, and put more pressure on the… Europeans, considered good mediators for Putin (although the Putin – Erdoğan meeting, assisted by Macron and Merkel, has no chance to happen, the Kremlin rejected it). Turkish president has one argument only, the catastrophic humanitarian situation of Idlib refugees. Therefore, Erdoğan took the following measures:

  1. He requested political and military support from the United States. Washington responded positively and expressed political support, but did not officially respond to Turkish request of deploying Patriot missiles (although unofficial statements were made regarding this missile support);
  2. He requested an emergency session of the North-Atlantic Council, based on Article 4 of the Washington Treaty. Although NATO showed understanding for the catastrophic situation in Idlib, and asked Damascus and Russia to stop their offensive in Idlib and resume complying with their own commitments taken in Astana, the Allies only expressed a principled support to Turkey, with no practical political or military measure in support of Ankara. No practical measure was possible anyway, as Ankara was not attacked at home, but it entered by its own will in the trap of meddling in Syria and negotiating with Russia and Iran, the aggressors, without a principled basis;
  3.  Displeased by the European position of not jumping to support him in the dispute with friend Putin, Erdoğan “opened the gates of Europe” for a new wave of migrants. Thousands of these refugees headed towards the Greek frontier, where first of them were stopped by Greek law enforcement formations who repelled them in violent confrontations. Already having experienced migrant problems, Athens announced it would close its borders on the grounds that Greece has no responsibility for the migrant flow caused by the interventionist power game in Syria. Together with Bulgaria, which announced it deployed troops at its border with Turkey, Greece requested European Union support. Brussels expressed concerns and is seeking solutions for this new crisis. Erdoğan motivated this decision by blaming EU for failing to comply with the agreement stipulating EU payments to Turkey for supporting Syrian refugees. In fact, the real reason is political: the Europeans are blackmailed with the migration weapon for providing support in reaching an agreement with Vladimir Putin, an agreement able to rescue him from the entanglement he entered by his own will[6]

Russia used a stalling tactic (delegations and discussions of the two presidents and other political-military officials) and put Erdoğan in his place by referring to Astana agreement articles and international laws which better fit Moscow interests[7]. However, Russia forgot its own commitments taken in Astana and consolidated its military disposition (two cruise missile frigates transited the Bosporus Straits towards eastern Mediterranean Sea).

Current situation will keep worsening, Recep Erdoğan being forced to find a solution with Moscow (and Tehran) regarding Idlib, while the fate of one million Sunnis thrown on the roads is the only argument Ankara can use in its benefit. The stake is firstly domestic, as Erdoğan finds it more and more difficult to explain to Turkish electorate his foreign policy, especially when Turkish soldiers are killed in large numbers.

In the larger picture, there are two autocrats getting along or cheating each other, according to the situation and the force ratio (now favoring Russia): this is how the multipolar world coveted by adversaries of the West looks like. The Europeans (spearheaded by France and Germany) will likely do everything to find a solution for the current situation in Idlib, while taking measures to face the new wave of migrants launched by Erdoğan, but also by increasing the “financial tribute for migrants” payed to Ankara. In the same time, Greece and Bulgaria, but Romania as well, will have to prepare for the worst, with or without EU support. However, Turkish Arabic language TV channel presented a map with suggested itineraries for reaching the West, including through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

Finally, Recep Erdoğan decided to attack Damascus troops, and, on March 1st, he started in Idlib self-defense Operation Spring Shield, in response to the February 27th attack against Turkish troops. Ankara announced it expected Russia to convince Damascus stop its aggression in Idlib and withdraw to the cease-fire line agreed in Sochi. Two Syrian aircraft (including a Su 24) were already downed by Turkish air defense, and a Turkish drone was downed by Damascus’s troops. The situation went south to a level where neither of the two decision-makers, Russian and Turkish, seems to be in total control.

Erdoğan likely decided to launch his attack to recover Idlib after certain guarantees were received from Washington regarding a would-be deployment of a naval battlegroup near Syrian coastline, which would tilt the force balance in his favor. Indeed, on February 29th, an American air-naval battlegroup (aircraft carrier Dwight Eisenhower, a battleship and two destroyers) entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Strait of Gibraltar. Russian air forces deployed in Syria and naval forces deployed in Eastern Mediterranean (two Kilo-class submarines, all three Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates and a Vasili Bukov-class patrol warship) are small compared to the American above-mentioned assets. Regional powers seek to avoid a direct confrontation in Syria (no matter how cunning they would be at this level, what Rules of Engagement might be issued in order to avoid such dangerous situation?), with Turkey announcing it had no intention or wish to confront Russia. Of course, the United States has certainly no desire to get dragged into the conflict. However, the situation became very serious. President Erdoğan pressed further, and we will see how Putin responds. Meanwhile, we should brace ourselves for a new wave of refugees in Europe.


III. UNITED STATES / RUSSIA. Washington maintains support for Ukraine and the international law.

The United States extended sanctions against Russia and reaffirmed its support for Ukraine against Russian aggression, while Kyiv reiterated its firm stance. Friendly messages by Vladimir Putin were corrected in cynical specifications provided by his former councilor Vladislav Surkov, whose statements show how the Kremlin truly sees the Ukrainians and Ukraine. Although a relative calm established after the recent surge in violence at the contact line in Donbass, Russian military exercises in the region, as well as Russian reaction to the American warship entering the Black Sea show that there is no real détente in Donbass and the region.

On March 2nd, President Donald Trump extended the sanctions against Russia for another year, in response to Moscow’s actions against Ukraine  (annexing Crimea, the aggression in Donbass, and other destabilizing actions against this nation). Although having been sometimes suspicioned of favoring Russia, President Trump maintains a firm position of supporting Ukraine, which is strictly necessary to Kyiv for coping with Moscow pressure. The American political position was stated by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who declared, on February 27th, that the United States did “not recognize and would not ever recognize” Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula: "February 27 will mark the sixth anniversary of Russia's attempted annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, and the United States reaffirms: Crimea is Ukraine... As underscored in our July 2018 Crimea Declaration, the United States does not and will not ever recognize Russia's claims of sovereignty over the peninsula. We call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea... Six years on, Russia continues to rely on lies and disinformation in its failed attempt to legitimize the illegitimate. Its efforts are doomed to failure".

In his turn, six years after the annexation of Crimea, on February 26th, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy designated February 26th as “Day Of Resistance To The Occupation Of Crimea And Sevastopol”. Beyond symbolism, which is strictly necessary for the memory of Ukrainian society, this decision shows that Zelenskiy, although flexible and open to an implementable / realistic solution, will not accept a compromise jeopardizing Ukraine’s future.

Russia issued divergent signals: first, on February 21st, Vladimir Putin issued a friendly invite by declaring that Russia and Ukraine should unify ("Any integration of Russia and Ukraine, along with their capacities and competitive advantages would spell the emergence of a rival, a global rival for both Europe and the world"); later, on February 26th, in his first interview offered after losing his position of councilor to President Putin, Vladislav Surkov corrected Putin’s message with the Kremlin’s true image on Ukraine: "There is no Ukraine. There is Ukrainian-ness... That is, it is a specific disorder of the mind, sudden passion for ethnography, taken to its extremes... Local history there is so bloody. It's a muddle instead of a state...there is no nation. There is only a pamphlet: 'The Self-Styled Ukraine,' but there is no Ukraine. The only question is, is Ukraine already gone, or not just yet?" Asked to clarify these words, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained that Surkov no longer holds an official position, and his declarations are just "the opinion of a Russian, albeit very authoritative and competent".  

All of them are right, in their own way: 1) arguably, without Ukraine, Russia is hardly an empire, and Russia proved it can exist only as an empire; 2) Surkov showed the thinking which led to the aggression against Ukraine, denial of Ukraine’s existence by the Kremlin. While primitive, his thinking is also frightening, knowing that any genocide began by denying the very existence of a people (most recently, the Bosnian drama started when Milošević and Tudjman decided that Bosnian Boshniaks / the Bosnian Muslims do not even exist). With such thinking, what can we expect from the Kremlin’s future policy on Ukraine?

In the larger picture, there are Russia’s military exercises in the Black Sea region, respectively in Crimea. Moscow conducted a series of air, naval and land exercises (including the already usual landing practice), with Tu 22M3 strategic bomber actions in addition. After that, the entrance of an American destroyer into the Black Sea was probably the triggering element (another habit) for a series of anti-ship defense exercises conducted by costal missile batteries deployed in Crimea cooperating with Russian Black Sea Fleet aviation and warships. 

Politically, the situation in Eastern Ukraine did not evolve toward a solution, and militarily, large Russian air, naval and land exercises became routine.


IV. SLOVAKIA. Parliamentary elections.

The February 29th parliamentary elections in Slovakia were won by the opposition, and Robert Fico’s Social-Democrats lost to the center-right political forces. The results of these elections lead to a transfer of power, an essential step for Slovakia’s future. The cause of the government’s defeat is corruption and its links to questionable businessmen with mafia connections. In Slovakia, a new era begins, which is inspiring for Romania as well, in view of establishing closer relations with the Visegrad Group nations. A more democratic Slovakia will be more palatable, and will be able to open to Romania doors which other nationalist-autoritarian regimes still keep closed for us.

Election results are a disaster for the still governing party, Robert Fico’s “Smer” Social-Democrats, who have been in power since 2006 and now obtained only 18.29% of the ballots. Worse, it’s allies, the nationalists and the ethnic Hungarian party (yes, such combination worked) did not get over the election threshold and failed to get any seat in the parliament. The elections were won by the center-right party, the Conservatives with populist features OL’aNO, which won 25.02% of the ballots after promoting an anti-corruption platform. This party will be able to form a parliamentary majority although the situation is rather complicated because the Liberals (PS/Spolu alliance) failed to enter the parliament by a small margin. Thus, among the center-right parties (the potential OL’aNO’s allies), only the “Sme Rodina” (the Euroskeptikals) with 8.24%, SaS with 6.22% and ZA L’UDI with 5.77% managed to win more than the 5% threshold established for parties. In exchange, the very OL’aNO success contributed to the failure of other possible allies: the Liberal alliance PS/Spolu won only 6.96% (the threshold is 7% for alliances in Slovakia) and the Conservatives KDH, who won 3.9% (under the 5% threshold for parties). The far-right L’SNS party (neofascists) won only 7.97%, but will be in the parliament though.

It seems that there is a moment in east-European democratic development when indignation is the factor determining the electorate to remove the post-Communist manipulators from power, although, in case of Smer, they brought economic prosperity. It seems that such moment arrived in Slovakia. Of course, there is still a long way to a fully functional democracy, as the future power is divided and ideologically eclectic. But everything has a begining, especially since the first step had been made before, with the election of a spotless president who proved himself during the fight against a powerful oligarch.


V. Developments to track this Week 10 of 2020.

► GLOBAL. Coronavirus already has pandemic features and reached Romania! Regardless the final level it reaches, we all should realize that this is the first war since 1945 which we will win together. The main weapons are prevention measures and confidence in authorities. Therefore, we will pass this test together, through a disciplined individual behavior and abiding by collective rules. Nevertheless, even without any God-forbid Coronavirus damage, until 2050, Romania will have a population reduced by 30%! Italy faces virus spread despite tough measures. Considering the multiple connection with Italy, the chances of having a Covid 19 increase on this connection also grow in Romania. Global economic effects begin to show, from worldwide supply chains, especially those starting in China, to the decrease in crude price under $50/barrel. The stock markets went south, and perspectives are grim. Politically, the virus is practically testing the nations, states and political / administrative systems and it cannot be avoided with rhetoric or manipulation.

► KOSOVO / UNITED STATES. On February 27th, the government in Pristina announced it partially and incompletely lifted the tariffs imposed for products imported through Serbia. Prime Minister Albin Kurti announced that tariffs on raw materials will be lifted after March 15th, and for the other goods after April 1st, but only for ninety days and only provided Belgrade gives up its campaign of persuading other nations to deny Kosovo recognition and removes trade barriers imposed for Kosovar products. The U.S. special representative for Serbia and Kosovo, Richard Grenell, rejected Kosovar government propositions and declared that the United States did not support this decision: “We do not support Prime Minister Kurti’s half measure. Our position is quite clear: the tariffs must be completely dropped. Mr Kurti is making a serious mistake - and that was made clear to President Thaci at the White House”. We are to see the way Albin Kurti fails his first sovereignist test, as he must obey the American request.

► ISRAEL. Again, parliamentary elections. Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, Likud, has the first chance because: 1) “Bibi” obtained a huge foreign success, with important consequences for the future of Israel, from friend Donald Trump, who presented him with a peace plan as a gift favoring Israel (although the United States calmed down Bibi, who was hurrying to annex the occupied West Bank territories, which are to be attributed to Israel, according to the American peace plan); 2) the Israeli Prosecution Office started to investigate rival Beni Gantz’s business (but not Gantz himself). This action casts a shadow on the prosecution objectivity, although Israeli justice, the courts (the Constitutional Court first) are examples of moral verticality and foundation of a strong Israel. Monday March 2nd exit polls show four Knesset seats more for Likud (which would win 37 seats) than its “White and Blue” rival, and 60 seats for the center-right bloc. We will see whether Likud ends up with enough power in the Knesset to form a government. However, the situation remains complicated, but Israel is too strong to depend on its government, let alone a man, although Netanyahu indeed obtained for Israel what very few ever dreamed to obtain. The prime minister promised he would the construction of a neighborhood which would practically isolate Eastern Jerusalem, thus causing new tensions with the Palestinians. We are to see what the Israeli electorate decides, operating with true heroes running in these elections.     

[1] This must be preserved at political and political – military level, knowing that the strategic partnership value was achieved by the Romanian soldiers who gave or risked their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

[2] This is the reason for delaying the signing ceremony: in order to get better results, the Taliban committed attacks, including terrorist attacks, aiming at larger political impact. This strategy did not work though, President Trump stopped the negotiations with the Taliban immediately after such attack against American troops.

[3] In addition, the U.S. getting closer to India put Islamabad in the situation to review its position, especially since no country, not even friendly China, is ready to tolerate the use of a terrorist organization by a country to project its power abroad. At some point, Russia was accused by the U.S. of having supported the Taliban and Moscow implemented a strategy of criticizing the American presence in Afghanistan. However, Russia must adapt to realities now, when the U.S. no longer secures the southern border of Moscow’s Community of Independent States: this past week, Moscow deployed drones at its Kant base in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia. 

[4] These troops are very little Syrian, but: 1) Afghan – Hazara fighters recruited by Tehran; 2) Iranian of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps / IRGC; 3) Hezbollah, from Lebanon; 4) Russian mercenaries, special forces and aviation; 5) just a few of Syrian Alawis. As a Russian mercenary put it: “we fight, and they come to hoist the flag in front of the cameras”.

[5] Although it is true, there are terrorist organizations in Idlib, with links to al-Qaida, and many jihadist groups as well, they cannot be identified with all rebels in Idlib, and especially with a million Syrian civilians indiscriminately bombed just because they are Sunnis.

[6] Defying the European and American position, Erdoğan decided to interfere in Syria, both against Bashar al-Assad and against Syrian Kurds; he was the one to collaborate with Iranian and Russian aggressors to reach the Astana agreements, which they did not comply with; he was the one to play and is still courting the Kremlin, even when Russian troops kill Turkish soldiers; he is the one who established an authoritarian regime in Turkey, although half of the country is against him, and now, when his foreign policy proves wrong, calls upon his traditional allies; because he fails to meet understanding, he uses the migrants as weapon (the migrants who arrived at the Greek border are… Afghans or Africans, the Syrians fleeing Idlib are not allowed to enter Turkey!).

[7] Sergey Lavrov pointed that the situation in Idlib cannot lead Turkey to use NATO treaty Article 5. Of course, the Kremlin also underlined the need of eliminating the terrorists in Idlib.