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After Syria intervention flop, what’s next for Erdogan?

Ankara’s latest statements show it has dropped the idea of sending regular troops to Syria, yet it is poised for new ventures to avoid a total exclusion from the Syrian equation.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) chats with Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar during a funeral ceremony for Army officer Seckin Cil in Ankara, Turkey, February 18, 2016. Army officer Cil was killed during the clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants in Sur district of the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTX27IRL
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In early February, the Russian-backed Syrian army cut the route from Aleppo to Turkey, a critical move that spurred President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s desire for a Turkish military incursion in Syria. Ever since 2011, Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have unsuccessfully tried all means except a military intervention to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Yet toppling the regime was not the motive behind their latest advocacy of a military intervention. They knew this was already out of reach in September when Russia’s direct military involvement in Syria began. With the loss of the Aleppo route and the looming threat of a regime siege on the city, Erdogan’s objective shifted. He now sought to save Ankara from being totally sidelined from the Syrian equation and ensure it had some say on Syria’s future. Sending the Turkish army to Syria, he reckoned, was the only option left at hand to grab a prominent seat at the negotiating table.

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