Turkish Gambit: Standoff over Syria aggravates between Armenia’s ally Moscow, foe Ankara

In northern Syria, in Latakia, which is home to a compactly residing Armenian community, everyone is awaiting a settlement of the conflict that may come through a ground operation. Russian warplanes already bomb the neighborhood of Aleppo, which is home to an estimated 60,000 ethnic Armenians. Turkey and Saudi Arabia have also expressed their readiness to take part in a ground operation.

Ankara is trying to take control of territories in Syria bordering on Turkey and densely populated by Kurds and Armenians. It is afraid that an autonomous Kurdish entity will emerge in the territory of Syria and Iraq, which may spread to the territory of Turkey itself.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, essentially calling him an occupier. At the same time, he accused the United States of supporting the Kurds. Erdogan urged Washington to choose as an ally either Turkey or the party of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD), Associated Press reports.

Judging from his statements, Erdogan intends to provide to the United States its territory for operations in Syria, but on condition that Washington will help neutralize the Kurds.

“We do not want to make the same mistake in Syria as in Iraq,” the Turkish president said, reminding that in 2003 the Turkish parliament rejected a U.S. request to use Turkish territory to invade Iraq.

Washington supports the warring Kurds in Syria. At the same time, Turkish government forces are carrying out a bloody operation against Kurds in the southeast of Turkey. A state of emergency has been introduced in Diyarbakir and a number of cities and towns in Eastern Anatolia. There are also ethnic Armenians, including crypto-Armenians, in these parts of Turkey.

Meanwhile, a representation of the party of Syrian Kurds has opened in Moscow, and Russia openly supports the Kurds on the basis of its hostile attitude towards Turkey.

The threat of direct Russian-Turkish clashes grows, and experts do not exclude that the collision will not be on the territory of Turkey or Syria, where Ankara has strong positions.

Well-known Armenian political scientist, head of the New York representation of the Russian Institute of Democracy and Cooperation Andranik Mihranyan in an interview with Tert.am, in fact, said that the Russian troops stationed in Armenia are on high alert for a Turkish aircraft to violate the Armenian border in order to be able to shoot it down.

(Turkey shot down a Russian military plane at the Syrian border in a November 2015 incident that marked the start of the current bitter standoff between Moscow and Ankara).

Judging from what the informed analyst says, Russia does not exclude that its forces stationed in Armenia may also be involved in the conflict.

No one now dares to predict how Syria will be divided in the future. But many experts do not exclude that the future division of this Middle Eastern country will mean an end to the local Christian communities, including the Armenian community.