The Battle for Idlib: A Wild Card in Turkey’s S-400 Deal

Six days ago, on May 7, I was the first to break the news on the Turkish government’s behind-the-scenes pondering over scrapping the S-400 deal with Russia without losing too much face. Those of you who have been following the developments in Turkey through my Twitter updates are aware of the current worsening climate for journalists reporting unapproved news and information in Turkey. With that I am sure you understand the valid reasons for me not citing any specific sources for that article. I provided you with dozens of links on facts, from economic to political pressures, pertaining to the Turkish government’s S-400 dilemma.

For the last six days since I posted my article I’ve been combing through the news, national and international, for any and all developments pertaining to the Turkey-Russia-Syria front. There hasn’t been a peep from any Turkish media outlets on the “Real” facts related to the “Real” status of the Turkey-Russia S-400 deal or Turkey-Russia dynamics as they relate to the escalating Idlib situation. As far as the media outlets outside Turkey go, other than some generic coverage of Idlib clashes, there’s been absolutely no mentioning of Turkey-Russia relations’ status, including the S-400 deal, except for a couple of small outlets from Germany and Bulgaria.

Today, on May 13, BulgariaMilitary.Com, a military news site in Bulgaria that I am not very familiar with reported the following:

The Deal Between Russia and Turkey for the S-400 Is Stopped According German Media

The Bild’s German online edition published late on Friday last week that, according to the information from diplomatic circles that reached them on Friday, the deal between Turkey and Russia for acquisition of the Russian S-400 has been stopped, learned

According to a senior Ankara diplomat and quoted by Bild, the aggressive foreign policy of Erdogan is the cause of the Turkish lira crisis, and the delivery of the Russian S-400 will not be carried out in July. Similar news began circulating among some European media late on Friday and throughout Saturday. For this reason, the officials in the Turkish Presidency, and in particular the Turkish Presidency’s Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun, said “Your sources are mistaken. Take it from me: The S-400 procurement is a done deal”

Here are a few excerpts from the article by Bild in Germany published on May 12:

A high-ranking diplomat from Ankara told BILD: “The economic crisis in Turkey is increasing due to Erdogan’s aggressive foreign policy. There won’t be a S-400 delivery in July, as the Turkish President has announced, because the purchase would lead to sanctions from Washington – and with the current crisis with the lira, this would be an economic downfall for Turkey.”

The lira crisis has obviously caused Erdogan to change his mind, however. As BILD has learned from diplomatic circles in Ankara, the missile deal between Moscow and Ankara will apparently no longer take place.

Russian media has been mimicking Turkey’s response to these recent claims on the status of the S-400. Yet, there has been zero, by that I mean zero, coverage of Russia-Turkey relations status since the latest Idlib operations in the past two weeks.

With all that, the escalating developments in Russia-Syria Idlib operations and the latest talks from Turkey lend further support to my article foreseeing the cancellation or modification of the Russia-Turkey S-400 deal.

On May 10, three days after my piece, Turkey began toughening its stand on Idlib with the following direct message to Russia and Putin:

Turkey asks Russia to stop airstrikes on Syria's Idlib

Turkey has asked Russia to stop bombing Syria's northwestern province of Idlib. The province has been under attack by Russian-backed Syrian regime troops for about 2 weeks. The news was given by Anadolu, which quoted diplomatic sources as saying that the request had been made in a telephone call between Turkish Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Today, another ultimatum was sent to Syria, and Russia, while Turkey moved further military supplies and men to the safe zone in Syria:

Turkey's defense minister said Syrian government forces need to halt attacks in northwestern Syria, state-owned Anadolu Agency reported on Friday.

Akar also said the attacks pose a threat to the security of Turkey's observation posts in the northwest, where Turkey carries out patrols: "We expect Russia to take effective and determined measures to make regime forces stop their attacks on the south of Idlib and immediately return to the borders set by the Astana agreement," Akar said, referring to the Kazakh capital by its previous name.

Another comprehensive piece by al-Monitor today also delves into the details, stakes and importance of the current battle for Idlib.

With all these Russia-Turkey-Syria developments paired up with the worsening economic conditions in Turkey, I still foresee a major change in the Turkey-Russia S-400 deal. Other than the article from Germany’s Bild, which appeared five days after my exclusive piece (and the possibility of my piece being one of their sources), no other media outlet has been covering this subject. I have to admit, while not surprised by the censorship from the Turkish media, I am a bit (only a bit) baffled by the complete blackout by all Russian media outlets.

Telling and reporting the truth (and facts) during these times of deceit may be courageous, but it may very well be dangerous. I will do my best to continue reporting on these very significant geopolitical developments. And for all this I count on your support and backing.

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Sibel Edmonds is editor and publisher of Newsbud, founder and president of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), and author of the acclaimed book Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, and The Lone Gladio, a Political Spy Thriller. She has appeared on national radio and TV as a commentator on matters related to whistleblowers, national security, and excessive secrecy & classification. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award. Ms. Edmonds is a certified linguist, fluent in four languages, and has an MA in public policy from George Mason University and a BA in criminal justice and psychology from George Washington University.

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  1. Walid Hammami says:

    There is nothing on the North American media neither.
    It seems Idlib is returning back to the Syrian government in the next few months. They only talk about Venezuela.
    Either a deal has been made or they just don’t care anymore. If a deal was made then all what is being said in anadolu is just smoke screen. An operation on YPG territory might start soon.
    We will finally see Syria whole again, the refugees coming back and the reconstruction will begin.

  2. Steven Hobbs says:

    Hi Sibel,
    No word of any of this stateside. The intensity of that regions internecine conflicts are not abating. False flags near the Straights of Hormuz are creating a easy flash point for shock and awe with many colors. As always, be careful.
    Many thanks for the update.

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