Assad’s sly dance with the wolves

BY: Yasin Aktay*

The fundamental problem in relation to the civil war in Syria, which is about to complete its seventh year, laid bare the burning truth once more after the Bashar Assad regime’s operations targeting the civilians. As a matter of fact, during his visit to France, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and French President Macron had made realistic observations concerning the root of the problem.

Erdoğan underlined the impossibility of creating a permanent and just atmosphere of peace with the Syrian regime, while Macron had made the following observation that laid bare the entire problem: “The more than 3 million refugees Turkey has embraced fled the regime’s violence, not the Daesh threat.”

Therefore, if a permanent solution is sought and desired in Syria, its alternatives must exclude the Assad regime. The latest developments have clearly revealed this truth once month.

Hundreds of civilians dying following the Idlib-axis operations conducted by the Assad regime and a new wave of nearly 2 million refugees moving toward the Turkish border, has certified once again that the real threat in Syria is the Assad regime, not Daesh. Daesh appeared as a secondary threat element – for which the Assad regime consciously made room and –  used to shift the Western world’s attention to a different direction and to make people choose the Assad regime as the better of two evils.

The Assad regime, which was left in a quite difficult situation on the field in the first two years of the public uprising, left the ground back then to terrorist elements such as Daesh, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), to prevent the moderate opposition forces from gaining control on the field and make it backtrack. It used the Daesh ghost it created to have the “progressive, secular” character of the Baath regime accredited in the Western world. It succeeded in achieving this to a certain extent.

It was going to be easier to take back the locations they took control over from these terrorist organizations it created itself, which have no legitimacy on the field, than to take it from the moderate opposition groups that have a social legitimacy. The West failed to see this dirty trap set by the Assad regime or it did not want to see it for different reasons and plans.

The U.S. administration that led the formation of a dialogue forum effective both on the ground and in politics, called Syria’s Friends, in the early periods of the Syria incidents, focused on the Daesh ghost created by the Assad regime more than the conditions and the regime that created this terrorist organization and started to take certain decisions that would delay a solution in Syria.

The PYD-YPG terrorist organizations being trained and equipped under the name of the so-called fight against Daesh was at the top of these wrong decisions. Due to the ongoing support despite Turkey’s objections, the locations cleared of the Daesh terrorist organization are left to the control and mercy of another terrorist organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) Syrian affiliates.

During this process, the unnamed alliance between the PYD-YPG, Daesh and the Syrian regime did not draw much attention from anybody. Today, we are  able to discuss this unnamed alliance more freely in the context of the developments happening in Idlib and its surroundings.

It appears that the Assad regime promised a limited sovereignty to the PYD-YPG in the north of Syria in exchange for the defeat of the moderate opposition forces in the country. It thus aims to create a threat aimed at Turkey and take a step that would cut Turkey’s ties with this region, where it has historic and cultural ties. At this stage, Daesh, another terrorist organization that is quite useful in terms of all sides, is kept at the ready.

Hence, it is possible to predict that the Daesh terrorist organization that is presently claimed to have been made to withdraw, will “advance” again within Syria in the case the Assad regime is in trouble. The more the regime loosens Daesh’s harness, the further this terrorist organization progresses, and when it pulls on its harness, it pulls back. In the case the regime operation in Idlib “fails,” Daesh’s return becomes possible when this is taken into consideration.

In brief, before it is determined that the PKK’s Syrian affiliates, the PYD-YPG terrorist organizations, and Daesh are being turned by the Assad regime into useful tools of internal and external politics, all policies to be produced in Syria are doomed to fail.

As is known, applying pest control before drying out the swamp is not a solution. Assad is the actual source of the problem in Syria.

We are watching in surprise a fox that goes by the name of lion (Assad means lion in Arabic) dancing with the wolves.

*Yasin Aktay is a member of the Turkish parliament and a leading figure of the ruling Justice and Development (AK Party) in Turkey. (Published in Yeni Şafak Turkısh newspaper)