Turkey’s Upcoming Choices with Free Syrian Army

Eldorar Alshamia Editor | 22 February, 2017

#ElDorar AlShamia :

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called days ago for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to be the national army of Syria, in conjunction with a speech about the ongoing developments in the battle of "Euphrates Shield" waged by FSA supported by the Turkish Army in northern Syria, against IS group as well as the Kurdish YPG militia.

This is not the first time that the Turkish president praises the FSA, he also described them at the end of January of the last year as a "Resistance Movement” struggling to liberate their territories ,despite the great convergence between the Russians and the Turks and such a statement might imply a reference to resisting against the occupation of Russians and Iranians as well.

Erdogan added "they accused the FSA via TV channels as a terrorist organization, but the Free Syrian Army represents moderate opposition inside Syria, nothing to do with terrorist organizations, it is a resistance movement struggling to liberate their lands."

These remarks came in talking about the "Euphrates Shield" operation and the fulfillments it got emphasizing that the process does not involve the Turkish ambitions in Syrian territory, but carried out by factions of Syria to fight IS group and aim to block the project of the separatist YPG militia in the region.

Russian and International pretexts!

Liberated areas in Syria teeming with factions operating against al-Assad regime, but each has its own vision, which could cause a lack of homogeneity of the internal structure of military for those areas, and some Islamic organizations and groups resist against the regime but at the same time they may cause a problem for the neighboring country of Turkey, which seemed to be forced  to put such groups on the UN "terrorist organizations list", as well as what might afford the Turkish state of serious concerns about any relations especially for the Turkish government and the ruling AK Party.

Russia is working to exploit that point, in constant and ongoing attempts to internationalize te support for the al-Assad regime and promoting the case internationally as a war on al-Qaeda and the organization of IS and other terrorist organizations, trying to attract Washington and the West for military cooperation under the fight "Jabhat al-Nusra" slogan, which had moved announcing disengage stage from al-Qaeda, but that did not change much on the ground.

In the northwest of Syria, Idlib province has become a compilation of the displaced points around Syria, Aleppo’s bloody battle of Aleppo is still fresh in the mind, where Russia has taken hundreds of affiliated members of Fateh al-Sham argument for the destruction of the eastern neighborhoods of the city and the displacement of its population.

Each of the Western and Russian media illustrates Idlib as a new "Tora Bora" and often the Russians playing the chord of the western concerns about the extremism of "terrorist organizations", but the United States, which leads the international coalition is still waging strikes against targets for "Fateh al-Sham" in Idlib individually, ignoring Russia's repeated calls for the military coordination with them in this regard.

In conjunction with the announcement of the cease-fire agreement in Syria , the US raids escalated against members and leaders of the "Fateh al-Sham" remarkably, after it was a rare event, which raised the ire of Moscow, which accused Washington of causing the fall of the civilians in the bombing, which was accused by Washington in Aleppo and other places.


Russia’s calls for the US side is still open, as the US Defense Secretary, James Mattis, responded to the Russian President's statements about Moscow's readiness to resume military cooperation with Washington, saying that the United States is not prepared militarily to cooperation with Russia at the moment.

Actual efforts and motives of Turkey

“Arabic-21” news website quoted Mustafa Sayjai, the head of the political bureau for the "Mu'tasim brigade" as saying that Turkish efforts began to form the nucleus of a new national army in Syria, "away from cantons, factionalism,warlords or personal interests," in order to reach a one-unity army ; and the new project will depend on the competencies and elites, where mostly from the participants "Euphrates Shield." will be enrolled in the new army.

In an analysis of the reasons for Turkey's motives, the competent researcher in Turkish affairs, Ali Bakir talked to the same website in three levels:

"Firstly, to maximize the victories of the FSA factions, compared to the extremist groups, particularly IS group and al-Qaeda, which will help to unite the moderate factions, and will provide a more political, financial and military support, and that Ankara's role in the defeat of these groups is a pivotal role" the researcher said.

At the second level; according to Bakir- it lies in the "joint regional cooperation with the interested states to institutionalize the Syrian opposition factions within a national army, or that have a relationship with the factions, and through the training, arming and reintegration programs, such an move of unifying may be easier".

The third level is the level of international legislation: "But as soon as the two previous steps are done ,the third would be applicable , in all cases, overcome these obstacles need to devote time and effort, we must not be overly optimistic to the end of the completion of this thought," Bakir said.

Cut off the YPG militia’s ways

Turkish side does not hide his candidacy for FSA to protect the borders of safe areas in case they are created in Syria, instead of bringing foreign troops, or rely on the Kurdish people protection militia YPG, which is strongly rejected by Ankara.

Erdogan: "We have trained and supplied the FSA, and as I said earlier that we must establish a safe zone free of terrorism, Russia ,the United States and Iran all were informed."

Several clashes between the Free Syrian Army factions and YPG militia reported before the start of the "Euphrates Shield " and after the operation also, and such militia represents the completely parallel enemy to IS group and the forces of al-Assad, so Turkey does not need to make hard efforts to convince the Syrian factions to fight the YPG militia just if all conditions get well to fight the terrorist militias on the ground.

Like the constant sparring between the militia on the one hand and IS group on the other hand, near the Turkish border, which is found in the FSA very viable alternative to keep the danger of IS group away and forming a bulwark against any separatist project to expand.


It does not seem that Turkey wants or can neutralize Russia as an anti-FSA side, which has been featured when the Russian aircraft targeted FSA fighters and Turks soldiers since the beginning of this month near al-Bab, where the Russians confirmed that the targeting was based on the data given by the Turks to the goals belonging to IS group, However, the Turkish side refuted the Russian claims as "Gazeta" Russian newspaper revealed that the raid came because of the free Syrian army approaching from Assad's forces and clashed with, which reveals how it is fragile the arrangements and understandings between Russia and Turkey in that area, because one of the causes is the Russian permanent alert toward the Free Syrian Army.


Who follows  the Turkish official's remarks during the recent period will be aware that the interests of Ankara is the stability of the situation in Syria, through the existence of "national army", rather than factional situation, and preventing the continuation and deepening of the internationalization of the Syrian file under the pretext of the existence of al-Qaeda and its control over the liberated areas, and cut the road to Russia's attempts to attract international support in order to fight "terrorism" as a pretext to eliminate the opposition factions against al-Assad.