NATO should grit its teeth and help Turkey in Syria, says one of the leader articles in the last issue of the magazine The Economist.
“Turkey is the only country trying to stave off this humanitarian crisis”, writes the British weekly about the situation in the Syrian North Eastern province of Idlib, the last big pocket of rebel-held territory in Syria. The Economist acknowledges that the area is now largely controlled by jihadists, essentially a franchise of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda. This does not mean, however, that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be allowed to retake it. For this reason the Economist supports Erdogan’s offensive against Syrian government troops.
“Turkey is crying out for help in Idlib. Its NATO partners should provide it, not only to stop the suffering of desperate Syrians, but also to reinvigorate their faltering alliance”, argues the anonymous author of the text. “Turkey is too important for NATO to abandon. It has the alliance’s second-biggest army and sits at the crossroads between west and east. The situation in Idlib, dire as it is, provides an opportunity to reset relations”.
It sounds all perfectly rational, if it did not come across as a bit to cynical. Even the Economist admits this: “The fact that strategic considerations might motivate more than their concern over struggling Syrians in disheartening”. Still, according to the publication, supporting Erdogan is the only viable option.
“Letting Turkey slaughter Mr Assad’s forces would hurt Russian credibility and could force the Kremlin to send more of its own to defend Mr Assad’s gains”, argues another article in the same issue of the magazine. Does this mean Turkey and NATO should trick Russia into committing more soldiers in Syria? One almost feels that somebody at the Economist may enjoy not only the sort of cosy upper middle class life that their status offers, but does not refrain from playing grandiose global war games too. One can feel rather brilliant enjoying these amusements from the security of a land thousands of miles away. But one can never exclude that the shock waves of the wreck one has helped cause may not one day reach one’s home.