The war in Syria has already got Erdogan, president of Turkey, into much trouble, including economic, military, and social issues that have set the Turkish agenda for years.
Despite being a loyal member of NATO, Turkey abstained from voting on Russia’s suspension from the council of Europe not to damage the relations. By doing so, Erdogan just showed goodwill. Insisting on impartiality over Ukraine does not result from the strength of the Turkish state, but rather the feebleness. Erdogan and his narrow circle have made crucial mistakes that disable them in the international political arena.
Back in 2012, just after the conflicts in Syria broke out, Erdogan vowed to perform prayer in Damascus Mosque, which is in the capital of Syria and has symbolic importance for the Islamic world, to demonstrate the Turkish state’s backing and determination on the war. At the time, Russian Federation had not taken part in the conflicts. Whether it was a challenge or bluff, Erdogan went too far by saying so. Putin, president of Russian Federation, went there after many years with the legitimate president of the Syrian Republic and performed prayer together. This footage had never been televised on Turkish TVs.
Another milestone was that the Su-24 over Syrian territory, 1km from Syria’s border with Turkey, was shot down by Turkish F-16s. The Su-24 was said to have crossed Turkish airspace. Kremlin denied all accusations, sticking by its fallen soldiers. The pilots descending by parachutes were captured by El-Qaeda and its affiliated groups. The soldiers got executed the very next day after being tortured. In the first days of downing the plane, Turkish mainstream media welcomed the action while the former and last Turkish prime minister claimed that Turkey would never apologise for downing it. FETO, a religiously oriented association with which Erdogan’s party had been in alliance for decades, allegedly staged a military junta in 2016. These two close-knit allies fell apart. Hereupon, the pilots were arrested due to the accusations of being members of FETO. Eventually, Erdogan found a scapegoat to get rid of all his misdoings.
The last and most significant standoff between the countries occurred in Turkish and USA backed mercenaries’ controlling territory Idlib, western region of Syria. With the intention of revenge on the Turkish army for the fallen soldiers of 2016, Russian air forces conducted a bombardment on the Turkish convoy heading off the Turkish military base in the region, leaving more than 130 soldiers dead. According to Russian sources, the convoy and El-Qaida affiliated groups had been carrying out military activities in cooperation in the region. Turkey strived to offload the blame onto Essad, knowing that Russian satellites took shots from space that would prove accurate evidence since Russia raised this question that Turkey was involved in the oil trade with ISIS over the jet incident. Shortly after, Erdogan and his colleagues were invited to hold talks in the Kremlin. They were kept waiting for a long while, which is not proper in diplomatic relations. The footage was never televised on Turkish TV. On the other hand, Russian-stated TVs broadcasted that while time counter seen on the screen and discussing what a lesson was given to Turkish counter partners.
While Turkey has been facing an economic crisis, Russia remains the largest grain and gas supplier to Turkey. This fact cannot be ruled out by the Turkish state. In the next election, which will be held in 2023, Erdogan is, for sure, willing to run against his rivals not having his hands tied. Thus, in regional politics, Erdogan seems to be more cautious and not making important decisions on a whim regarding the Ukrainian crisis.