Turkey’s intervention represents a significant escalation of the conflict, as well as a sign that the country is likely to take a more aggressive approach to foreign policy following July’s failed military coup and subsequent purge.Joshua Landis talks about the Turkish intervention in Turkey’s Syria Intervention Syria Comment 08/28/2016:
But Turkey’s intervention is also an indication that the U.S. strategy of empowering Kurdish groups to fight the Islamic State in Syria has helped trigger an entirely new conflict, this time between U.S.-backed militias and a NATO ally.
Turkey launched its recent incursion both to take territory from the Islamic State and also to halt gains by the Syrian Democratic Forces and People’s Protection Units, Kurdish-led groups backed by the United States. The government in Ankara fears these groups will set up an autonomous Kurdish zone on its border, emboldening separatists within Turkey.
I doubt Turkey’s attack on the Kurds will bring Turkey, Russia and Assad closer to each other. Yes, Assad and Russia are pleased to see the Kurdish-American juggernaut stopped. Neither Syrian Arabs nor Turks want to see a contiguous Kurdish state stretching the length of Syria’s border with Turkey. All the same, Assad and Turkey remain bitter enemies. Turkey is promoting and arming rebel groups that plan to destroy Assad and conquer all of Syria. Assad hopes to drive Turkish backed groups from the country. The two will come into conflict sooner than later. Their common enmity for the Kurds is a bad foundation for understanding.And he notes, " It is quite clear that the United States no longer expects the rebels to win in Syria. The Turkish government also seems to have resigned itself to the survival of the Assad government in the medium term if not indefinitely."
Turkey will become drawn into the Syrian quagmire. Kurdish groups and some Arab militias will begin to attack the Turkish presence in Syria. This will suck Turkey into the fighting. The Syrian gov & Russia will promote these attacks. They have an interest in bleeding Turkey. They hope it will make Ankara more amenable to compromise. Turkey has already been weakened by the burden of refugees, renewed war with the Kurds, exacerbated internal secular-religious (Sunni-Shiite) discord, the failed coup attempt, the collapse of its Zero Enemies policy, and a sinking economy. Sending Turkish forces into Syria is only likely to continue this downward spiral. Turkish direct participation in the Syria conflict is unlikely to lead to a solution. Rather it is likely to prolong Syria’s agony. If we have learned anything from the Syrian conflict it is that the more external actors are willing to provide money, arms and firepower to Syrian proxies, the longer the war will gone on and the less likely one side is to win. [my emphasis]
Gareth Porter looks at how the Obama Administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wound up compounding the seriousness of the Syrian situation (A US-Fueled Syrian Sectarian Bloodbath Consortium News 08/31/2016):
The Obama administration bears responsibility for this atrocity, because it could have prevented Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia from launching their foolishly adventurous war in Syria. None of them did so out of desperate need; it was a war of choice in every case.
And each of the three states is part of the U.S. security system in the Middle East, providing military bases to NATO or to the United States and depending on US support for its security.
But instead of insisting that those three Sunni allies reconsider their options, the Obama administration gave the green light at a conference in Riyadh at the end of March 2012 for proceeding with arming those who wanted to replace the regime, leaving the United States ostensibly free to be a peacemaker.