By Dr Shahid Qureshi: –
Bashar Assad of Syria will be remembered as most ‘ungrateful and incompetent’ ruler when he launched attacks against Turkish forces in Idlib province and its own civilians that lead to the displacement of nearly million Syrians. Turkey is already hosting about 3.7 million Syrian refugees for many years. Bashar Assad coming from a tiny minority supported by the Iran and some elements from Gulf States could have saved Syria by handing over power to the majority of the country instead of clinging on. Both Iran and Syria are actually playing US and Israeli game plan, however, Russians are mere Jokers in the whole drama in the region. Only a legitimate Syrian government could save it from destruction and continuous civil war.
Both Hafiz and Bashar Assad’s of Syria were always first choice of the Israelis and Americans to be remain in power. They both kept the border with Israel quiet. The ‘devil we know’ strategy of Israel and US in saving fall of Bashar Assad regime lead to the serious tensions between Saudis and Americans. It suited the Americans and Israelis to move the large population of Syrians into Turkey and neighboring countries as it served the designed policy, ‘keep the Muslim population moving’. They did it in Pakistan in Afghanistan in 1979 and later created over 5 million IDPs (Internally displaced persons) apart from 2.5 million Afghan refugees.
According to a secret intelligence assessment prepared by the CIA in February 1984: “Middle East – South Asia: Population Problems and Political Stability’, worried about age structures in societies with high fertility. Noting that as many as one-third of regional population is in the ‘political volatile 15 to 24 age group, ‘the document which was partially declassified in 1986, warned that young people are ‘ready recruits for opposition causes’, including Islamic nationalism, ‘which currently offers the principal ideological haven for Muslim youth”.
According to political experts the growth in population is a distinct advantage in the modern world. Geoffrey McNicoll of the population council explained in a November 1985 conference on global population trends at Stanford University – California that, “population weight conveys power or voice in world affairs”.
That is why “Ray S. Cline former Deputy Director of Intelligence at CIA said in a book, “The Power of the Nations in the 1990s’, ‘that a large territory accompanied by a large population, almost automatically confers the status of power on a nation.’ But political analysis, he added, ‘generally gives little more importance to people than to territory, since populous countries of an adequate size can exploit economic resources, mobilize armies, and bring their influence on others”.
Turkey’s Patience Running out with Assad Regime
In this situation Turkish President said: ‘Turkey running out of patience with Assad regime’. Turkey is running out of patience with the Assad regime forces besieging the Turkish observation posts in Syria’s Idlib as the deadline for the regime is approaching, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on 26 February 2020.
Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting, Erdoğan highlighted Turkey’s determination to find a solution to the ongoing crisis in Idlib.
“Turkey has been trying to facilitate all efforts to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Syria’s Idlib, while Russia refuses to see the grave situation,” the president said, adding that Turkey demands the regime forces end their attacks as soon as possible and retreat behind Turkish observation points.
“Our deadline for the regime is approaching. After the end of the month, we will do anything we can to secure our observation points,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey will not take a single step back and push the regime out of the delineated zone.
President Erdoğan noted that Turkey already hosts some 3.7 million Syrian refugees and cannot handle another million heading toward its borders.
President Erdoğan’s comments came as Turkish and Russian delegations held a meeting to find a solution to the Idlib crisis on the same day.
The Turkish president has been criticizing Russia for offering continuous support to the Assad regime, which is further deteriorating the humanitarian situation in Idlib.
He continued by saying that one of the major problems now is that Turkey is unable to use the airspace over Idlib, which is controlled by Russia. “Hopefully, we will find a solution soon,” he said.
Turkish and Russian officials held two rounds of talks without reaching a concrete solution, as Turkish officials said they were unsatisfied with a Russian proposal for northwest Syria’s Idlib. The talks were prompted by a recent escalation in Idlib in which Assad forces killed 13 Turkish soldiers.
Ankara has condemned Russia’s policy of seeking to take over the territory with little care for the fate of its people, noting that the country was determined to not step back from the Sochi agreement and plans to take all necessary steps to end regime aggression.
Turkish officials have also highlighted that Ankara is not looking to gain territory but is, in fact, seeking an end to the humanitarian crisis and displacement of refugees, and would make no concessions on its observation points.
The Russian-backed Assad regime has been on the offensive since December to capture and reopen the M5 highway, held by the opposition since 2012, despite a cease-fire deal brokered late last year between Russia and Turkey. Turkish officials have been urging Russia to stop providing support to the Assad regime, which has been carrying out a deadly assault in the northwestern region. Erdoğan has underlined that Turkey has no more patience regarding Assad’s flagrant human rights violations throughout Syria, including using terrorist groups as an excuse to carry out a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Regime forces captured the key town of Maaret al-Numan from the opposition last Wednesday and have since set their sights on the town of Saraqib. The strategic M4 highway passes through the cities.
Turkey already hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and the current wave of violence in Idlib has raised concerns about a new surge in displaced civilians fleeing toward the Turkish border.
The September 2018 Sochi agreement signed with Russia prohibited acts of aggression in Idlib. The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the 2018 cease-fire and the new one that started Jan. 12, launching frequent attacks inside the safe zone in the northwestern province. More than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces since then.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced, often multiple times, in recent years by regime violence.
Finally, the Assad regime must realize that, clinging on to power would alienate it with its neighbors who are hosting its citizens in millions like Turkey. They should call in elections or hand over power to a national coalition. Russians cannot stop or choose not to stop Israeli attacks on Syrian soil in disguise of Iranian targets, has again proved their presence as part of the problem and not solution. Iranian sectarian policies based on Velyat-e-Fiqh ideology destroyed Iraq, Syria, Yemen and reason of tensions with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Gulf States. It is time for serous Introspection for all parties.
(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and chief editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Kazakhstan 2015, 2016 and 2019, Azerbaijan 2018 and 2020 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. At Government College Lahore he wrote his MA thesis on ‘Political Thought of Imam Khomeini’ and visited Tehran University. He is PhD in ‘Political Psychology’ and studied Law at a British University. He also speaks at Cambridge University. He is a visiting Professor at Hebe University in China.)
Disclaimer: views expressed are not of The London Post