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Turkey has provided safe transit for terrorists who came to Syria: professor

Nader Entessar, Professor Emeritus of Political Science from University of South Alabama, says Turkey has been a conduit for weapons for a number of terrorist groups in Syria for some time now.
Nader Entessar, Professor Emeritus of Political Science from University of South Alabama.

In an interview with the Balkans Post, he said Turkey has provided sanctuary as well as safe transit for terrorists who came to Syria in the early years of the Syrian conflict.

The following is the full transcript of the interview:

Balkans Post: How do you evaluate Turkey’s latest military actions in Syria? What goals is Turkey pursuing?

Nader Entessar: Turkey's main goal is to create a permanent presence in Syria and thus increase Turkey's sphere of influence in Syria and the broader Mediterranean region.

BP: Russia and Turkey have reached a deal on an imminent ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib. What’s your take on this development?

Nader Entessar: I don't think the agreement will last. Both Russia and Turkey are testing each other to see if a lasting framework of understanding can be reached between Moscow and Ankara over Syria. But there are several cleavages in how Russia and Turkey view developments in Syria, and in many respects, the two countries have fundamentally opposing goals in Syria.

BP: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the Syrian “regime is to blame” for the breakdown of a 2018 agreement between Russia and Turkey with regards to Syria. What’s your view?

Nader Entessar: This is just to justify Erdogan's military campaign and occupation of parts of Syria. What is needed is an agreement that includes the acquiescence of the Syrian government, not its exclusion. After all, neither Russia nor Turkey own Syria.

BP: Also, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Erdogan is fighting alongside terrorists (in Syria) on the basis of his Brotherhood ideology. Could you comment on this?

Nader Entessar: Unfortunately, this has been the case from the very beginning of the war in Syria. Turkey has been a conduit for weapons for a number of terrorist groups in Syria for some time now and has provided sanctuary as well as safe transit for terrorists who came to Syria in the early years of the Syrian conflict.

BP: How would the Turkish actions in Syria affect the future of peace efforts in the war-torn country?

Nader Entessar: It will contribute to the prolonging of the war in Syria and may also embroil Turkey in a quagmire for some time to come. In other words, Erdogan's Syria policy may also have a negative impact inside Turkey and intra-Turkish politics. 


Nader Entessar is professor emeritus of political science at the University of South Alabama. He is the co-author of Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Accord and Détente since the Geneva Agreement of 2013 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), Iran Nuclear Accord and the Remaking of the Middle East (Rowman & Littlefield), and Trump and Iran: From Containment to Confrontation (Lexington Books, 2019).