For Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the military push into Syria is about domestic politics, Gönül Tol writes for Foreign Affairs. At the outset of Syria’s war, Erdoğan welcomed refugees and supported Syria’s opposition, out of declared compassion and kinship with fellow Sunnis. As Turkey ended up hosting 3.6 million refugees, that policy began to strain Turkey’s south—and to cost Erdoğan at the ballot box. “Once the self-proclaimed magnanimous patron of all Sunnis, Erdoğan now wants the refugees to go home,” Tol writes. He now hopes to a create a “safe zone” to house them along the border, to be filled with Turkish-built housing, including soccer fields—an expensive project that would nonetheless solve “a major domestic headache.” As Erdoğan’s military advances on Kurdish-led forces, he sees his grip on power in the balance—meaning criticism from US senators isn’t likely to change his mind.
With the US pulling back, Bilal Baloch writes for Foreign Policy that Syria’s power balance will be reshuffled. Turkey, Iran, and Russia had worked together toward settling the civil war, Baloch writes, but deeper divisions are likely to emerge between them, as they jockey for power. Ultimately, the war will only drag on longer as a result, he concludes.