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Turkey's Failed Coup Has Already Seriously Weakened the Syrian Jihad

Erdogan is too busy purging internal enemies to have time for propping up his head-chopping friends across the border


Bad days for the jihadi project in Syria. The July 15th attempted coup probably by Kemalist officers -- who were always against Erdogan's Syrian entanglements -- was defeated, but that didn't prevent active Turkish aid for rebels and imported jihadis to nosedive anyway - at least for now. 

No doubt Erdogan remains committed to Islamism at home and abroad, but for the time being, Turkey is turning inwards. Financial Times:

Syrian rebels said last week they noticed a drift in Ankara’s attention. They said Turkey was inactive as rebels struggled against a tightening siege by the Assad regime on Aleppo, the opposition’s last big urban stronghold. Aleppo’s fate could be critical to the outcome of the Syrian conflict.

“Usually, the Turks would be checking in a lot, meeting with commanders and making sure everyone is doing their jobs and sticking to the plan,” says a rebel leader from a US-backed group. “The Turks could get control of this situation — and now, they’re absent.”

This drop off in Turkish involvement is understandable considering that cadres running the Turkish adventure in Syria did not escape Erdogan's suspicion:

Ankara’s purge against those suspected of involvement in the failed coup has seen more than 6,000 military personnel and 9,000 interior ministry employees dismissed, suspended or detained.

The commander in charge of Incirlik and the head of the military division responsible for Syria and Iraq are among more than 100 generals detained.

To the contrary -- Turkish intelligence apparatus may be in for a major restaffing and reconstruction. Moon of Alabama:

The Turkish point man on Syria so far was the intelligence chief Hakan Fide. He was recruiting, supplying and controlling the Jihadis and running the whole show. There are now signs that he will soon get fired. He will be made the fall guy for not detecting the coup early enough:

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Friday that deep-rooted changes will be made to the National Intelligence Agency of Turkey (MİT). ...

"It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it. I told it to the head of national intelligence," President Erdoğan told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Moreover, albeit US funneling material to the rebel camp is in Erdogan's interest, the shenanigans Ankara is playing with American access to Incirlik airbase, has Americans worrying their Turkish supply line to rebels might be disrupted as well:

Irked by America’s sanctuary for Mr Gulen, Mr Erdogan temporarily cut electricity to Incirlik, a large air base, interrupting the American-led bombardment of Islamic State. The private American companies based near Turkey’s borders with Syria that are contracted to extend non-lethal support to Syrian rebels wonder whether they too might be swept into the fray.

No wonder the mood is pretty bleak among the rebels in Syria these days. The Economist:

"We’ve staked everything on changing the regime,” says a glum spokesman of the Free Syrian Army, the umbrella group holding Eastern Aleppo, the largest urban centre still in opposition hands. “Instead everything has changed but the regime.”

Their exile leaders in Turkey and American backers aren't feeling much better:

...among exiled leaders in Gaziantep and the Americans co-ordinating their logistical backup, the mood is one of despondency. “It’s game over [for Syria’s rebels] already,” says one.

One interesting thing about the Economist article reporting this. In the opening paragraph it weeps over the sad new realities of Syrian Islamist rebels:

SYRIAN rebels looking to the heavens for salvation have grown used to seeing Russian incendiary and Syrian barrel-bombs raining down instead. But at least they could count on succour and sustenance from across the Turkish border

But then in the last paragraph admits they're working with al-Qaeda:

Aleppo’s fighters say they have long anticipated a siege and built up supplies. Aided by Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate, they suggest they could cut the road to regime-held Western Aleppo and impose a siege of their own. 

Rebels fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with bin Ladenites are being hit by Syrian and Russian munitions? Well oh, that's just terrible then. I'm sure we'll all be crying ourselves to sleep tonight.


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