Turkey’s Army Chief and the Head of National Intelligence Flew to Moscow Today
Russian jury still out on Turkey's Afrin offensive
Turkey’s army chief Hulusi Akar and head of national
intelligence Hakan Fidan flew to Moscow today to hold talks on Syria
and, as many commentators speculated, to secure Russia’s blessing for a planned Turkish offensive against the Syrian Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin.
their meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Russian
Ministry of Defense posted a brief statement on its website saying the
talks had focused on the situation in the Middle East as well as on
“current topics of mutual interest.” The meeting was “held in a constructive manner,” the statement concluded but provided no further details.
The English-language Daily Sabah, the mass-circulation outlet that
serves as a mouthpiece for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
wasted no time in spinning the story
to fit Turkey’s desired narrative. In quoting the Russian statement, it
substituted the word “constructive” with “productive,” implying that
the general and the spymaster had been given the green light to proceed
with the offensive.
Photographs of the Turkish and Russian delegations assembled around a
large oval table released by the ministry suggested otherwise. The
Russians were grinning; the Turks were glum.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu remained evasive when asked
whether Russia was on board for a Turkish operation. In an interview
with CNNTurk, he said, “The Russians should not be opposed.”
Cavusoglu said that Turkey was holding discussions with Syria’s top
ally, Iran, which also has troops deployed along the Syrian Turkish
border. Cavusoglu argued, however, “It is our right under international
law. … We are going to do this. We need to do this. We do not care what
the countries of the world have said.”...