“Turkey has begun testing the Russian S-400 missile defense system”, Bloomberg reported on Monday, quoting a Turkish defense official. According to a Russian expert, this is a new political maneuver by Turkey. In an interview with North-Press, Dr. Karim Muzafar, an expert in the Russian affairs said that the Turkish announcement of testing the Russian S-400 missile defense system came after the Turkish Defense Ministry has recently disclosed that the Russian-made S-400 air defense systems will be operated in April 2020; after the completion of the second batch, and after the United States had requested Turkey to destroy the Russian missile defense system if it wanted to preserve its interests with America.
The Turkish maneuvers
The Russian expert said that the announcement of the start-up of the test is a new political maneuver by Turkey, in order to obtain U.S.-European privileges, especially since the Turkish armament is Western, and the Russian system is contrary to the systems operating in the Turkish army. He considered that Turkey is well-practiced in its political maneuvers, and usually preserves cards to help it with the political maneuvering, especially since the Syrian file is still at the international negotiating table on one hand, and at the table of the main parties (Russia- Turkey- Iran) on the other hand, in addition to the fact that there are still heated consultations for ending the presence of the terrorist groups on the Syrian territories.
Turkey plays a pivotal role by supporting many of the terrorist groups in Idlib, despite its alleged promises, more than once to dissolve and stop supporting these groups that refuse to surrender their weapons, according to the Russian expert.
In response to North-Press question about how Turkey's start-up testing of the missile system is linked to the suspension of the military operation in northeastern Syria, the expert pointed out: “Turkey is known for its political maneuvers, seeks self-benefits, and exploits its closeness with Moscow significantly, so the start of the pilot operation has nothing to do with Turkey's cessation of the military operations in Syria, which originally came in accordance with the Turkish-Russian understandings, including conducting joint military patrols in northeastern Syria.”
Resuming the military operation
Muzafar said: "The Russians predict that Turkey will resume its military operation since it does not consider that its objectives have been achieved, namely not to allow any form or formula for the establishment of an autonomous region, and the second objective is to reduce the number of the Syrian Kurds fighters to a minimum, who are estimated today at about 63,000 fighters.”
Regarding whether the Russian air defense system is Moscow's card to deter Turkey from resuming its military operation, Muzafar denied that this card is the only one used by Moscow, noting that Russia has many pressuring cards that can be exerted on Ankara, he said: "We saw that after the Russian jet was shot down in November 2015.”
Selling the Russian air defense systems
Muzafar explained that Moscow sold and delivered the missile defense system as soon as possible before the military operation in Syria, because it was very keen to complete the deal first and it had known previously the location of its installation. In addition, it was aimed to achieve several objectives, which is to create a rift in the relationship between the NATO and Ankara, and between the United States and Ankara for being one of the major allies, where it has an important geographic and strategic position, sharing borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran. In addition, Turkey has played an important role in the Syrian conflict, providing arms and military support to some armed groups opposed to the Syrian government.
The fate of the terrorist groups
Turkey has included in its military operation in northeastern Syria the groups of the so-called the National Army, and regarding these groups in case Turkey stopped its military operation, Muzafar indicated that there would be no change in Ankara's stance toward these groups at least in the coming period.
Dr. Karim Muzafar stressed at the end of his interview with North-Press that although Russia and its leadership confirmed more than once, that its patience will not be so long towards the armed opposition groups in Idlib and Turkey should work to end their presence, Turkey is trying to maneuver to achieve its objectives in the Syrian territories.
However, he believes that Turkey is ready to abandon the armed opposition groups at any time if its support collides with the interests and benefits that could be obtained in the future.