Buried beneath headlines of impeachment and the Wuhan coronavirus, events are playing out that could reshuffle the deck of geopolitical alignments surrounding the Syrian civil war.
The catalyst was the launch of a long-anticipated government offensive on Idlib. The operation, which pits Turkey-allied militias against the Assad regime and its Russian ally, was always going to test the strength of Moscow and Ankara’s nascent detente. The hope in Russia had always been that Turkey would clear out ahead of the final push to reunify the country. That hasn’t happened; in fact, Turkey has now doubled-down on the defense of its proxies in northwest Syria, and we could be heading to yet another escalation in the protracted conflict. The new fighting has already displaced some 700,000 people in Idlib since December – the largest migration the war began.