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18 October 2019


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John Helmer analyzes the Syria situation with his typical thoroughness and nuance. Helmer is particularly well informed about the divisions of opinion within Russia, and within the general staff.

Russian Defence and Foreign Ministry distrust of Erdogan’s intentions has been explained as Ottoman Empire revivalism by analysts [21] close to the General Staff. “The territory which the Turkish army entered [this month] was formerly part of the Ottoman Empire. There are a number of signs that Ankara cherishes dreams of recreating it. This is possible by armed means. In addition to the United States with its messianism and belief in its own omnipotence, there are very few countries which indulge in imperial thinking. Turkey is almost the only one to embody these ideas in practice.”

More direct criticism than this of pro-Turkish officials in the Kremlin, such as Dmitry Peskov, is impossible for these Russians or their allies in the Moscow press.

Reporting on the situation assessment 24 hours before yesterday’s US-Turkish meeting, a Moscow reporter close to the General Staff claimed [22]that “the Turks initially set themselves the task of occupying to a depth of 30 kilometres, and then cleaning up this territory. Apparently, they were going to drive the Kurds out of the thirty-kilometre zone indefinitely, but now it is clear that much has gone wrong. The political objective of the operation — the creation of a sanitary zone along the Turkish-Syrian border — is already unattainable.”


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