Is the war in Syria a good move for Erdoğan?

As the Turkish army advances in Syria the country's government is cracking down on critics at home. Criminal investigations have been launched against the co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish opposition party HDP, for example, for calling the operation an invasion. All other parties have given their approval for the offensive. Commentators ask if the war will benefit or harm Erdoğan in the long term.

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NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

People are united behind their president

No matter how much the West criticises Erdoğan he's scoring big points at home, NRC Handelsblad notes:

“The Turkish military operation in the northeast of Syria is perhaps the biggest risk President Erdoğan has taken in his long political career. For the moment it's turning out well for him. The offensive has distracted the public from the country's economic problems and the mutiny within his AK party. He's playing off the newly awakened and united opposition against each other and uniting the people behind their troops and their commander. ... What's more, the international criticism gives him the opportunity to cast himself as a proud leader who remains steadfast when the entire world is against him. The Turks have a soft spot for such things.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Modern-day sultan in big trouble

With his Syria offensive the Turkish president has massively weakened his position at home, The Guardian counters:

“Erdoğan’s grip on power remains firm, but not as firm as it once was. The furious international backlash to his Syrian disaster, publicly exposing his fallibility, will weaken it further. If new steel and other sanctions imposed by Trump intensify entrenched economic problems, causing more hardship, price rises and job losses, and if Turkish army troops begin dying in large numbers in a Syrian quagmire, this modern-day sultan could be in terminal trouble.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Turkey won't come to rest

Erdoğan's offensive could prove counterproductive in his own country, Die Presse also believes:

“It's impossible to launch an offensive and not turn your Kurdish population against you. Erdoğan can't use the slogan: 'We're not fighting the Kurds' - and then arrest four elected Kurdish representatives as he did on Tuesday. The government knows that the situation in the southeast will continue to escalate, perhaps until the definitive escalation. Ankara is no longer interested in peace with the Kurds, and without this peace process neither Turkey nor its military will come to rest.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

Perhaps Ankara is following Moscow's plan

The Cyprus Mail believes it possible that Turkey and Russia have worked out a deal:

“Erdogan can either back down and be humiliated, or he can press on and risk war not only with the Syrian army but also the Russian air force. That's the way it looks on the surface, and maybe that's all that's going on here. But we must also consider the possibility that the whole thing has been a charade, master-minded by the Russians, to get the Americans out of Syria and restore Syrian government control over all of eastern Syria. ... Erdogan declares a ceasefire and eventually withdraws his troops, stating that he is satisfied that the Kurdish 'threat' has been ended because the Syrian army, not the SDF, now controls the border.”