Skip to main content

Idlib exposes Erdogan's untenable policies

Turkey’s predicament in Idlib has laid bare its weaknesses and the longstanding inconsistencies in its foreign and security policy as never before, boding adverse repercussions for the government, both at home and abroad.

After the number of Turkish military personnel killed in Idlib climbed to 13 earlier this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan unequivocally declared that Turkey would attack Syrian forces anywhere in Syria if another soldier were hurt. 

Erdogan had already issued an ultimatum to Syria to withdraw to the lines set in the Sochi memorandum, which he signed with Russian President Vladimir Putin in September 2018. If not, Turkey would unleash a war against the Syrian army to oblige it to pull back. The International Crisis Group (ICG), a transnational organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflicts, was alarmed. In a report titled “The eleventh hour for Idlib,” it suggested that Damascus and its Russian backers should immediately conclude a cease-fire with rebel forces enjoying robust Turkish military support. For ICG, “Erdogan’s words were no idle chatter.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.