Ankara is trying to carve up Syrian territory in Idlib — and it looks like they might get away with it. But Moscow has shut down any dreams Erdogan might have had about seizing Manbij and the surrounding countryside.
For those who missed it: Yesterday it was revealed that Russia had mediated a deal between the Kurdish Manbij Military Council (MMC) and Assad, in which the Syrian government would take control of the region.
Russia swooped in and united the Kurds and Assad, while Washington and Ankara were busy squabbling over who should control Manbij.
It was a brilliant move, but one that didn’t materialize out of thin air.
Russia has always been interested in uniting Kurdish YPG forces and Assad in order to push Turkey and its „moderate“ rebels out of northern Syria.
Losing control of the northern countryside of Aleppo would be a setback for the opposition. Turkey, too, would lose influence.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be eyeing an even bigger victory. He called on the Assad government and the political wing of the YPG to unite. This has still not happened – at least not officially.
But Syrian Kurdish officials have said they are ready to work with anyone fighting ISIL, and anyone who works for a united, secular and democratic Syria.
Such an alliance would change the battlefield and the balance of power on the ground.
It’s a simple concept, really: Russia understand that anyone who isn’t a terrorist would happily unite with their political foes to preserve a secular Syria.
And now that the Russia flag is flying proudly alongside the emblem of the Kurdish MMC, it seems that Erdogan’s dream of creating an Islamic caliphate in Syria has gone up in smoke: