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Assad’s reconciliation with Arab world could upend Turkey’s plans

As Arab states warm toward Syria, Ankara might end up facing an anti-Turkish Arab bloc that could complicate its planned operations in northern Syria.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari in Damascus, Syria October 15, 2018. SANA/Handout via REUTERS     ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE - RC135195E970

The apparent thaw in Damascus’ relations with the Arab world is more bad news for Turkey, which is already having a difficult time coping with the rapid change in the balance of power in Syria. If President Bashar al-Assad is welcomed back to the Arab fold, as many expect, it will be the final nail in the coffin of Ankara’s Syria policy, which has been plagued with misjudgments, false assumptions and overambitious expectations from the start.

As countries like Sudan, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Tunisia line up to favor the normalization of ties with Syria — and many expect Saudi Arabia to join them eventually — Ankara could end up facing an anti-Turkish Arab bloc it never expected. Such a bloc could also complicate Turkey’s plans to enter northern Syria to clear the town of Manbij and territories east of the Euphrates River from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), especially now that Damascus has declared its opposition to this incursion.

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