We are going through strange times. There are so many baseless, ignorant speculations and theories floating around. One of them is about the military balance between Turkey and Syria.
Our chief EU negotiator, Minister Egemen Baris, the other day said: “Turkey’s military power is enough to wipe out Syria in couple of hours.”
Yesterday, Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentarian Samil Tayyar said on TV: “If Turkey wants, it can reach Damascus in three hours.”
These utterances could have some relevance if you compare [the two nations’] number of soldiers, planes and tanks, given that Turkey has supremacy in all.
But such comparisons are disastrously misleading because the issue is not two neighboring countries fighting and one defeating the other.
They may see it as a Sunni offensive
1) After occupation is accomplished, a time comes when the winning side says: “We wished we had not done this.”
Remember how in 2003 the United States — the supreme military power of the world — occupied Iraq in such a short time with minimal losses. When it officially withdrew from Iraq in 2011, 4,500 American soldiers had been killed and many more wounded.
Yes, the losses of the enemy forces [Saddam’s soldiers and resistance] were much higher, but for the US public opinion it was the American casualties that mattered. So what will be the cost of entering Damascus for Turkey? How many martyrs? How many wounded? How much will it cost?
2) Turkey’s occupation of Syria will mean an upheaval in the Shiite world. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is based on opposition Sunni groups and Sunni Islamist fighters affiliated with jihadist groups and al-Qaeda. When Turkey assists the FSA, it means we are also helping those groups and this disturbs the Shiites. They believe that after [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad falls, these Sunnis will massacre the Shiites.
This is why Turkey’s entry to Damascus will drive the Shiite world to go berserk. They will do everything possible to resist such a Turkish move.
Exit will be a nightmare
3) In one article I had said, “Consider Syria as Russia.” Russia’s sole Mediterranean base is at Tartus port. The Syrian army is equipped with Russian weapons. For Russia, Syria is both a market and an operational observation post.
So, by only looking at numbers, you can say the Turkish army [could advance as far as] Damascus in three-four hours. But, then what?
Will Russia declare war on NATO member Turkey? Of course not.
But a fanatical anti-Vladamir Putin terrorist group will blow up the pipelines that carry natural gas to Turkey. Gas deliveries will be disrupted for several weeks just as winter is approaching.
There is no need to repeat here what [the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)] can do, what madness they are capable of.
In a nutshell, it is easy to enter these affairs but difficult to get out of them. The fantasy of entry could end of with the nightmare of exit.
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