Erdoğan's operation played into the hands of Assad and the Kurds

The engineers of Turkey's Syria foray failed to calculate its possible outcomes. The most notable of which is the SDF's necessary alliance with Damascus.Turkey is now faced a state, not just an armed group. In the wake of the YPG-Damascus deal, YPG flags were swiftly replaced with Syrian state flags.

Musa Özuğurlu

The U.S. is leaving but what will happen next? Some questions subsequent to the U.S.' pull-out are starting to find answers.

Up until yesterday, all was well for the Turkish government. As the U.S. announced its decision to leave, Trump declared "he didn't care about Kurds", Damascus described the YPG as a "separatist terror organization" and Turkey launched an the operation that had long been in the making.

Such developments demonstrate the planners of this operation in Syria failed to predict its possible outcomes. The most important of these possibilities was the SDF's necessary alliance with Damascus.

This is a milestone. Turkey is now faced a state, not just an armed group. In the wake of the YPG-Damascus deal, YPG flags were swiftly replaced with Syrian state flags.

When the Turkish President declared "Syria is incapable of fighting terrorism", he implied the Syrian army had completely lost its power. Erdoğan believed that even if the SDF had sought Damascus' support, the Syrian army wouldn't lend it sufficient support, Turkey thereby being able to annihilate the YPG. Yet, the exact opposite of such a scenario emerged as the second most important result of the operation.

The SDF-Syria deal implies a unification of forces. At this stage, it is difficult to predict whether fighting will occur between this alliance and Turkey. Still, the SDF-Syria coalition will undoubtedly target the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army.

The Turkish army cannot safeguard this organization. Cast as "terrorists" by other states and actors, there is little Turkey can do to protect the group in foreign lands.

Many expect the Syrian army to advance into Manbij and then towards areas the SDF controls near the northern border. American troops retain a present in the south and east of this triangle. Since Turkey's operation is being carried out from the north, these areas are crucial.

Following such developments, will the Turkish army confront the Syrian army? Manbij is a point of contention. Other areas are border settlements Turkey had taken control of previously as well as a stretch of the M4 highway, further south.

The determining factor in this situation will be how much Turkey insists on being present in the areas it controls and which routes the Syrian army opts for after having reached the 93rd regiment near the Tabka base and Ayn Issa.

Regarding the meetings that took place between the SDF and the Syrian state in the Russian Hmeymim base in Latakia, a source from Damascus expressed the following: "there was no written agreement. Both sides were focused on emergent military matters instead of politics. According to the verbal agreement, the military cooperation will be based on the SDF joining the Syrian army. Instead, the SDF will operate under the command of the Syrian army.

Politics shall be discussed later.

It is difficult to tell how long such a purely military alliance will last. Yet one clear consequence of Turkey's foray into Syria is that the Kurds will become an integral part of the political process from now on, something they would not have been able to achieve otherwise. In other words, the Kurds will sit at the constitutional table - a place to which Turkey had long sent representatives.

Of course, this doesn't imply tensions won't arise between the SDF and Damascus in the future. But both sides have gained enough experience that it is safe to say they will prove "understanding" and conciliatory of each other in times ahead.

The consequences of Turkey's operation beyond Syria also seem to have been miscalculated.

Turkey received little to no international support. Senators in the U.S. have sworn to pass sanctions against which there is seemingly little Trump can do.

Other than Qatar, Turkey failed to receive support across the Arab world. What is more, the situation helped Syria to return to the Arab league.

It's only a matter of time for Syria to reach its two expected goals: the U.S.' complete departure and the gaining of the Kurds' allegiance. Syria is recovering territory it could not access until now due to the U.S.' presence. Moreover, the number of fronts it has left to fight has come down to one: Idlib. Groups such as the Free Syrian Army and National Army that have long been terrorists by Damascus will be left behind as Turkey withdraws from areas east and west of the Euphrates. Meanwhile, the Kurds are becoming a crucial actor in the future of Syria.

In short, Turkey's operation has helped the Syrian government more than anyone else. Erdoğan is doing a favor to Assad even Putin couldn't have done.