Another one benefits from the escalation: Vladimir Putin.
Tear gas against families, mothers, dropping their children in the foggy crowd, migrant throwing stones, desperate people in no man’s land. The scenes from the small town of Edirne on the Turkish-Greek border should reach Europe – and they did. Sender: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He knows that the misery of the people in Edirne calls for images of the 2015 refugee year, the repetition of which European politicians have vowed to prevent.
The Turkish President is also the determining player these days, 1,500 kilometres to the southeast, in neighbouring Syria, in and around Idlib. Erdoğan’s military has been powdering Assad’s forces with armed drones, tanks and missiles since the weekend in northwestern Syria. Two Syrian fighters were shot down, several drones, helicopters, 135 tanks; The Turkish defence minister proudly announces that more than 3000 regime fighters have been killed.
Edirne and Idlib, these two scenes of human misery, have to be considered together.
Then you see that Erdoğan, although acting as the driver of the current crisis, is a driven one. He responds to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the winner of the Syrian conflict and patron saint of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Putin wants to end the war. He achieved more in Syria than he could have expected. With the intervention since 2015, Russian President Assad saved from the impending fall. Putin has shown that he will not tolerate further overthrows as in the Arab uprisings since 2011. He has restored Russia’s status as a major power and made sure that no one can get past him in world politics. Russia has inherited Americans and Europeans in the Middle East in the role of being able to speak to hostile nations: with Saudi Arabia and Iran at the same time, with Israel and Qatar, with Turks and Kurds, with Assad and Erdoğan. All roads in the Middle East are now via Moscow.