February 12, 2020
Turkey's standoff with Russia over Idlib
Talks between Turkey and Russia to stop clashes in Syria's region of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold, ended with no result. The two countries support opposite sides in the conflict, but they also cooperated to de-escalate the situation after a truce was agreed in Sochi. Tensions then reached a new height after 13 Turkish soldiers were killed in their observation posts. As Assad's troops advanced and took over crucial roads and villages, Turkey sent military re-enforcements to protect its troops there.
Over the last 10 weeks, 700,000 refugees left the region. This is the highest number of displaced civilians in such a short period of time during the last nine years that the civil war in Syria has been raging. Recep Tayyip Erdogan already warned that Turkey has no capacity to take in more refugees on top of the 3.7m it already hosts.
How far is Turkey ready to go in confronting Russia? Even if some politicians at home suggest Turkey should go fully against the Assad regime, this is unlikely to happen. Turkey has no allies in this matter. On its own the only chance is to raise the stakes with some military interventions for renewing peace talks. This looks like an unstoppable collapse of the last rebel region in Syria.