As backs are turned on the civil war in Syria at the end of five years, there are signals that a new period is starting. It seems that the superpowers have made decisions on behalf of the Syrians. Despite the many opinions that the cessation of hostilities, moving into its third week, will not be successful, the situation indicates the opposite. Although there are violations reported on both sides, there is a serious decline in conflict when compared to the violence that increased with Russia's entry into the field. Frankly, we thought that this cessation of hostilities would work, or be made to work, because the parties were almost forced at gunpoint to sit at the table, accept the conditions and sign the agreement in Geneva.
Russia intensifying the attacks as the cessation date neared, and countries like the US standing silent was due to this imposition. The conditions had reached the point the superpowers wanted; the picture that Russia entered Syria to support the regime was reversed, and the opposition had lost its gains to the regime and its supporters.
Well what should we expect to see next? The answer is hidden in “what kind of a Syria do the super powers want to see?” In appearance the first plan is: Assad and his regime go, the chosen opposition groups are supposedly given the opportunity to enter politics (according to the conditions set by the superpowers), and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its extensions take roles in ruling united Syria. In the case this is provided: Everyone will unite and fight against Daesh and al-Nusra, those who don't conform to the plan will be declared a terrorist and will become the enemy of the post-Assad period. However, there is nearly no inside support for this forced plan. Assad and his partners do not want to leave. The opposition believes that Assad going, yet leaving the Baath regime behind, is insufficient. It doesn't look like the PYD will accept anything less than a federate Syrian state.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement that “Russian soldiers will be withdrawn from Syria,” should be approached in this respect. Russia operated in Syria without harming its own interests, now it wants to protect these interests. It is giving Assad, who thinks that he will remain in the saddle with the provocation of Iran, the message: “ Abide by the plan, or I will completely withdraw my support.” Meaning that if Assad insists on staying despite Moscow, he will lose the chance of Russia offering him a place to stay and will have to stand before the International Criminal Court all by himself.
Even if Assad accepts this, will the other parties accept this too? Lets say Saudi Arabia and Turkey convince the opposition to accept this plan, what will the PYD do? The lobbying that circles around the PKK/PYD are conducting for a federate Syria is rather powerful; the idea that there are similarities between the PYD's expectations and the frequently mentioned “plan B” that is waiting aside is growing stronger. The statement Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon made this week is very important:
“We believe that there should be a federate kind of structure in Syria. Providing unity in Syria is just a desire. These are strategic and well-intentioned approaches toward Syria. If a federation is to be considered for Syria, there already is an 'Alawite state' led by Bashar Assad that controls 30 percent of the country. Although Turks aren't very happy about it, there is a Kurdistan. Kurds have areas in Syria and Iraq. It can be “Durzistan” and it can work with the regime. This is what they are trying to do now too.”
This approach, which has been made public to this extent for the first time, might coincide with the plan B that the US usually refers to, yet has not disclosed. Besides, there are quite a few takers of this plan. I was invited to the joint meeting conducted by the “European Turkish Democratic Union” and British Parliamentarian Tom Brake at the British Parliament. The impression I got in London was that this plan was seen as a “solution” by many Brits. This plan seems not to be openly defended, but is not rejected either from Stockholm to Brussels and Paris to Berlin. Besides, the powerful lobbying the PKK and leftist movements have conducted in Europe has greatly contributed to this.
However, this concerns not only Syria but it Turkey's future too. A federate PYD area, or even worse, a PYD state shows that although Turkey may be successful in its fight on terror today, it will have to discuss other issues and have other agendas in the future. For example, the third bomb explosion in Ankara; we have lost many lives and many others are injured. It is clear that this attack and the ones before were conducted by the PKK and its affiliates. The attackers were trained in PYD-controlled People's Protection Units (YPG) camps in Syria and then entered Turkey to organize terrorist attacks, yet Turkey does not get anything more than a fake condemnation message.
The “soft power” you use in international relations is directly related to the lobbying you do in other countries, your campaigning, and the perception you create in civil society, media and therefore public opinion. And unfortunately, the internal traumas Turkey has experienced in recent years and the foreign attacks have weakened Turkey in this respect. Regrettably the youth, although inexperienced due to their age, lack the much-needed passion. You look for a quarter of the ambition, diligence and effort their leader President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has, but unfortunately you cannot see it. I would like to say to these young friends that they might be able to fool themselves and silence the others, but it will continue this way for a long time. Because the issue is no longer the future of Syria, it is the future of Turkey...