On September 27, Turkey expressed active support to Azerbaijan in the newly erupted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
According to founder of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdul Rahman, who is sometimes notable for providing unbiased opinions and truthful information, Turkey transferred about 300 Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan a few days before the resumption of active hostilities.
The Syrian human rights activist says all of those belong to the Turkish-controlled Sultan Murad and Al-Amshat radical groups, whose fighters are Turkoman natives of the occupied Afrin enclave in northwestern Syria. These three hundred thugs can do nothing but fight, and have a historical hatred for the Armenians adhering to different faiths.
Rami Abdul Rahman said the militants hired by Turkey were promised a monthly salary of $1,500 to 2,000 for missions to protect Turkish military personnel in Azerbaijan.
It is common knowledge that Ankara is fully supportive of Baku. According to the same Rami Abdul Rahman, the Turks have urgently delivered over 1,400 controllable militants from Libya to Syria and get them prepared for projection to Azerbaijan.
In total, the Turks returned some 8,500 mercenaries out of a total of 18,000 to Syria. Thus, approximately 10,000 pro-Turkish fighters remain in Libya – enough to support the local Muslim Brotherhood members and shape that country's political and military environment. The Ottomans have no shortage of allied forces in Syria.
Considering the strategic posture on a bigger scale and Turkey's political influence in regions important for Russia, we should note without reserve that it is to the disfavor of Moscow for the time being. Despite heart-rending attempts of quite a number of overexposed journalists. So, first things first.
Libya. Precisely because of the secretive moves, namely closed negotiations with the Turks and the Libyans themselves, it was possible to kick off the horse-trading to preserve the unstable peace in the country. Presumably, the trend towards resolving the crisis in the country will persist in the short term. This serves Erdogan's interests, for whom the prospect of Egypt's military intervention in the conflict could entail unpredictable negative consequences inside and outside Turkey. The Turkish leader has skillfully taken advantage of the ceasefire situation to switch some of the Syrian mercenaries under his command to the conflict in Transcaucasia, while maintaining a reserve for further maneuvers in and around Libya. At the same time, one cannot hope that Erdogan will ever leave Libya – he is here to stay!
Syria. The policy of the claimant upon creating a new Ottoman Empire in relation to Syria is sublime impudence and cynicism. In flagrant violation of all the international laws, Erdogan committed aggression against a neighboring sovereign state and then deftly joined the Astana negotiations as a "partner". Consequently, to date, his forces occupy about a fifth of Syrian territories. The Turks have armed and covered up for the rebel Syrian formations accounting for some 60 thousand fighters. The occupied Syrian region was made Turkish, including money, laws, members of the local administration and language training programs introduced in schools and other educational institutions...
In the Idlib province alone, the Ottomans deployed 68 military observation posts (instead of the 12 stipulated by the Astana agreements), which were turned into powerful strongholds. The Turkish group of troops in the area is 16-18 thousand strong. Defense Minister of Turkey Hulusi Akar has openly stated that he is not going to withdraw personnel from Syria.
Erdogan failed to fulfill any of his commitments at the talks in Astana, Sochi and Moscow. He does not think of it either. The same can be said about agreements with Russia, including that on gas and oil, the purchase of which the Turks have ceased, as well as the incident with the S-400 air defense systems purchased on a Russian loan, which the Ottomans sought to palm on the Americans at a bargain price. Hence it turns out that Russia is indiscriminately behind the eight ball, to put it mildly. Can Moscow have some unknown top secret leverage on Ankara, but does not feel comfortable to use it for some time to come?
However, it should be noted that the Turks has bitten Syria, making it really challenging to pluck them out of there: its staunch ally as represented by the United States is also therein. At every trifle Ankara will again wag its tail at Washington's feet and express regret for the temporary "erroneous" rapprochement with Moscow.
Nagorno-Karabakh. For years on end was Ankara breaking Azerbaijan away from Russia. Apart from the Azerbaijani oil and gas, the Turks need a reliable ally in Transcaucasia. Ankara and Baku can be understood: similar culture, language, common enemies – Russia and Armenia. Why not to help if you're needed? Besides, Moscow did not particularly seek to settle the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. But preparations for another escalation have been going on for years, and Yerevan has seen this.
The Turks have pretty much formed the Azerbaijani army anew, restructured it, applied much effort to training junior, intermediate-level and officer personnel, as well as handed over some samples of modern weapons. Ankara has advocated Baku's interests on all the international platforms. Another thing is that Erdogan has been zealously pushing Aliyev to unleash the conflict, especially recently.
When Nagorno-Karabakh blazed up, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan got in touch with President Vladimir Putin. He clearly craved for help, reasoning that there is a threat of an Azerbaijani attack on Armenia proper.
Aliyev had the sense not to burn bridges with Russia and to maintain strained, though not really fractured relations. Unlike Pashinyan, under whom Armenia etched out everything that smelled of Russian spirit. American philanthropist Soros with his fierce affection to Russia became the Armenian ruling elite's best friend.
In turn, Erdogan is candid about his vicious hostility towards Armenia. Mind you, not towards Nagorno-Karabakh, but towards the Armenians...
However, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will unlikely develop into a full-scale war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This is entirely outside Erdogan's plans. In Transcaucasia, the Turks will tickle participants of the Minsk Group, whose intervention will localize the crisis. And Ankara will become entitled to provide for Turkey's military presence in the territory of Azerbaijan. Perhaps, at the invited party's expense.
Why would he do that? To have a bearing upon Russia via its south. Azerbaijan can be used to transfer terrorists piled up in Syria to Dagestan, which will destabilize the situation in the south of Russia. The role of the Turks in the events of the 1990s is well-known. Is it possible that something has changed about the Ottoman mentality? No, it's inconceivable.
Erdogan does not want to bring the matter to a state of conflict with Russia. But it's well within his reach not to allow it to act freely even in friendly countries.