Is Turkey About to Move Into Syria?
In May, Turkey announced plans for a new military operation to create a 20-mile-long buffer zone along its border with Syria. Russia is opposed to the plans but caught up in Ukraine. The West needs Turkey’s approval to allow Finland and Sweden to join its military alliance. And Turkey’s economy is in crisis. Turkey may thus see it as its chance to extract concessions from the West, distract from economic problems at home, and expand its dominance in the region.
Over the last 10 years, Syria has become one of the most complex and bloodiest battlefields on Earth. Russia and Turkey, generally allies, are pursuing diametrically opposite positions in Syria. Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iran-backed terrorism has caused a refugee crisis that has overwhelmed Turkey. Turkey has a similar relationship with Iran—cooperating in some areas and clashing in others, especially Syria.
Turkey’s growing presence in Syria could mark a major change in that’s country’s direction, away from Iran.
Russia is worried it could lose out too. “We hope that Ankara will refrain from actions that could lead to a dangerous deterioration of the already difficult situation in Syria,” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said on June 2.
“Turkey is facing a new adversary that is not prepared to make concessions: Iran,” Germany’s Welt wrote on June 19 in “A New, Powerful Enemy Awaits Erdoğan.” “Along with Russia, Iran is one of the most important allies of Bashar Assad’s regime. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have numerous military bases in Syria. They are closely interwoven with the National Defense Forces (ndf), a militia association that is militarily stronger than the Syrian Army.”
To make the struggle even more complex, the Kurds that Turkey seeks to push away from its borders have been allied with the United States—for the simple purpose of opposing the Assad regime. Turkey is a part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and though it also opposes Assad, it is even more upset with the Kurds—and seemingly any solution the U.S. proposes. It, therefore, actively fights against U.S. ambitions in the region.
To understand Turkey’s foreign policy, the general rule of thumb may help: Each of Turkey’s allies can also be seen as its enemy. Except one.
Turkey’s military successes have come, in part, through the help and support of Germany. In 2018, Turkey invaded the Afrin region of Syria using German tanks to combat Kurdish militia. In the same year, Turkey was Germany’s largest arms recipient. Despite a partial embargo, Germany continued to deliver arms. In Syria, Turkey is also using its greatly praised Bayraktar TB2 drones against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The drone is enabled by Germany technology.
Germany, like Turkey, has been affected by the refugee crisis, which is partly to be blamed on Iran-sponsored terrorism. Thus Turkey and Germany share some common goals. One of them is to oppose Iran. So Turkey doesn’t have to fear any dire consequences from Germany if it executes its plans.
But how will Turkey convince the U.S. to give it free rein?
For years, the U.S. has unsuccessfully tried to bring about a regime change in Syria by supporting government opponents. Assad, however, has enjoyed Russia’s support in violently suppressing rebels. The proxy war has brought nothing but suffering.
Donald Trump, during his presidency, stepped partially out of Turkey’s way. During the Biden administration, the U.S. has moved out of Afghanistan. The. U.S. is shifting its focus to deterring China, which is increasingly seen as the U.S.’s main rival and is threatening to invade Taiwan. Additionally, the U.S. has spent billions helping Ukraine fend off a Russian invasion and trillions more to fend off domestic crises. For this and other reasons, Kurdish fighters see U.S. support waning.
Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria said that in the case of a Turkish attack they would turn to the government in Damascus for support. “The announcement appears to be a message directed at the United States and meant to elicit pressure from Washington on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to put aside his offensive plans,” abc News commented on June 7.
The U.S. has other priorities that could lead to its withdrawal from what appears to be a lost cause, ignoring the Kurdish threat to turn to Assad.
Finland and Sweden want to join nato. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. believes it can sell this announcement as a major geopolitical victory. But this victory can be possible only if Turkey approves. But Erdoğan has accused Sweden of supporting Kurdish terrorists that threaten its security. Sweden may not want to cut these ties, but the conflict could be solved in another way. All the U.S. would need to do is stand idly by while Turkey executes its occupation plans. The U.S. would drop its support for the Kurds, and Turkey would get its “safety buffer” and may allow Sweden and Finland to join nato. The U.S. may even reason that Turkey’s opposition to Assad and Iran may be better than supporting the Kurds in the future.
The only loser would be Iran and Russia.
Russia currently has bigger problems, and if it wins the war in Ukraine, it may be willing to leave Syria to Turkey. Iran, however, would not want to lose its influence in the region. But Turkey, backed by Germany, appears willing to take that risk.
“Turkey has also been allied with Iran, but it too is going to side with Germany in the future! Why?” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry asked in “How the Syrian Crisis Will End.” “Because it disagrees with what Iran is doing in Syria! While Iran supports the Assad regime, Turkey supports the rebels.”
Turkey appears willing to cut ties with Iran to win influence in Syria. By arming Turkey, Germany shows that it hopes for exactly this outcome.
It now appears evident that Turkey’s plan to increase its dominance may succeed to the temporary detriment of Iran—and the West is willing to look the other way. No one has threatened Turkey with “consequences,” especially “with sanctions,” the commander of the Kurdish Arab Syrian Democratic Forces complained.
But while it’s easy for the West to drop support for its long-term ally, the Kurds (though it is a scandal morally), aggravating Iran is far more dangerous. This terrorist-sponsoring nation is pursuing nuclear weapons and continues to threaten important trade routes.
If Turkey’s plan succeeds and Iran’s ties with Syria break, it would help fulfill a key forecast we’ve been making for years.
Psalm 83 reveals that Turkey (Edom), Saudi Arabia (Ishmaelites), Syria (Hagarenes) and Germany (Assur) will form an alliance. This alliance is already mostly in place. To learn more about the specifics of this prophecy, read “A Mysterious Prophecy.” This alliance excludes Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia. The Bible reveals that these nations will be allied and led by Iran into a confrontation with Germany (Daniel 11:42-43).
It also tells us that Syria will not be in the Iranian camp. It will instead be allied with Germany and Turkey. “Biblical prophecy reveals that, very soon, Syria will no longer align with Iran,” Mr. Flurry wrote in 2012. “What happens in Syria will lead to mighty nations changing course and the foundations of this world being shaken!”
To understand the events in the Middle East and how they relate to Bible prophecy, request a free copy of our booklet The King of the South.