The Syrian and Turkish governments both have expressed their discontent with the autonomous region of Rojava. Turkey has historically designated the SDF as a terrorist organization. Syria resents the fact that they control nearly 1/2 of their territory and most of their petroleum. Many people have conveyed the fact that this conflict has inadvertently benefited Syria and Russia. I propose that this isn’t simply a coincidence.
Turkish/Syrian/Russian officials have also expressed an interest in resolving this conflict amicably. Let me explain how this can be accomplished.
After the Turkish invasion the SDF predictably sought out protection from the Syrian government in an act of desperation. However, first the Turkish needed a certain duration of time. Syrians stall negotiations for approximately a week to permit Turkey time to occupy their designated area. After they finally occupy this area, the Syrian government reaches an agreement to defend their territory with the SDF, on the precondition that Rojava loses autonomy. The conflict stagnates. Turkey uses this opportunity to settle its refuges in the occupied territory. As stipulated in the Turkish/Syrian/Russian agreement. After the SAA enters northern Syria the conflict mostly halts. The strategic objectives were accomplished. Syrian and Turkish armies line the borders and Russia prevents either side from engaging in a skirmish. However the TFSA and SDF still fight as though the engagement is real, sustaining the majority of documented casualties. This is also mutually beneficial. Bleeding out their proxies weakens them. The proxies are the main instruments continuing the war. Syria has no love for the SDF and Turkey has no love for the TFSA after they have expended their usefulness.
Since the SAA have entered Rojava there has been little to no actual confrontation between the SAA and TAF. In fact they appear to intentionally be avoiding each other. Russia has been slithering around since the beginning of this offensive, they are publicly recognized as the mediator between the two sides. This conveniently allows for Syria and Turkey to engage in high level bilateral communications discreetly. Without disgruntling their proxies or arousing international suspicion. Russia’s job is to prevent an orchestrated conflict from becoming a real one. As no units on the ground are aware of these plans, they will still treat the conflict like it’s genuine. Barring minor incidents though SAA and TAF troops are still subordinate to high command, Russia ensures that.
Buckling under perceived international pressure, Turkey withdraws their forces. What the western world doesn’t understand is that Turkey just accomplished all their strategic objectives. Turkey just resettled approximately 3.6 million refuges, removed the Kurdish threat from their borders, ended their involvement in the Syrian War, and normalized relations with the Syrian government. The SAA and Syrian government begin to administrate the region immediately after the Turkish withdrawal. Fallout occurs from the global community. Turkey has prepared for sanctions. However they fully understand that any such measures would only be temporary. Response would be further constrained because of their NATO affiliation. It seems likely that Erdoğan was offered other, less apparent incentives, from Syria/Russia as well.
Syria now has control over the entirety of their former territory, access to formerly SDF controlled strategic resources like their prized petroleum wells, their economy is reinvigorated, they reintegrated a large portion of their pre-war population, and the catastrophic civil war is over, Assad receives praise internationally, relations with Turkey are normalized finally.
It was well understood since the establishment of the Syrian Kurdish state of Rojava that they were vulnerable. In this entire performance the SDF were ultimately just pawns. Used by regional and foreign governments alike to oppose ISIL, until the Kurdish mission no longer benefited them. The SDF were unknowingly forced into an agreement, they have no diplomatic means of challenging the Syrian government. After all — they saved them. Betrayed by literally every side, and slaughtered to facilitate political ambitions. Martyrs in a sense, the Kurdish people were sacrificed for regional stability.
Russia brokered peace in the middle east. They practically solved the Syrian War. Aligning with their history of acting as a mediator. They fill the power vacuum left by the United States withdrawal in the region. Their entire plan also portrays the U.S in a negative light internationally. The Americans betrayed the Kurds and Russia saved them. NATO were paralyzed by indecision and couldn’t protect their allies. The Kurdish no longer trust the United States, which significantly decreases American influence in the Middle East, to the satisfaction of all parties.
Turkey/Syria/Russia were all using immense diplomatic pressure to convince Washington to withdraw. Washington is the only entity that could prevent this plan from transpiring. Pressuring the U.S government diplomatically was very clever. Nothing to lose, everything to gain. They also have a convincing cover story by claiming that U.S troops shouldn’t be in Syrian territory regardless. When the Americans were predictably stubborn Turkey pressed their advantage. Understanding the U.S president’s campaign promises, withdrawal was likely, and they knew the Americans wouldn’t confront a NATO ally under direct threat.
The ultimate goal of the Turkish/Syrian/Russian operation was to establish stability in the region. Albeit at the expense of the Kurdish. The TFSA remains the only rogue variable in Assad’s path. They would need to be dealt with separately. The agreement probably entailed a very complex plan to purge them from Syrian territory somehow. A preliminary solution is that Turkey will likely stop financing them. Which would remove a lot of mercenaries from TFSA ranks and weaken the Syrian resistance. At this point in time Syria would have control over the majority of its territory for the first time in years. They would also be able to project far more power into the weakened Idlib province.
The plan is so cunning that it offers a remarkable amount of plausible deniability. There is no observable evidence that anything transpired. Yet it benefits all sides immensely. This is exactly why it is so feasible.