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Turkey’s geostrategic orientation at crossroads amid Idlib tangle

Confusion prevails in Ankara on how to resolve the entangled Idlib crisis and the choices it will ultimately make could bear on its geostrategic orientations in the coming years.

Turkey remains faced with a major dilemma on how to proceed in Syria after its latest deal with Russia led to a fragile lull in the rebel stronghold of Idlib but fell short of a lasting solution. Contrasting visions appear to be under discussion in Ankara, calling for choices that could bear on Turkey’s foreign policy in the long run. 

The most crucial provision in the deal with Russia, sealed by the two countries’ presidents in Moscow on March 5, is perhaps the one regarding the status of southern Idlib. The provision calls for the creation of a security corridor with a depth of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) on either side of the key M4 highway and joint Turkish-Russian patrols along the route to ensure de-escalation. The two sides have divided control over the corridor, with Turkey responsible for the northern side and Russian forces — and by implication, the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — in charge of the southern section. 

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