Backing down from Syria policy will have severe consequences for Turkey's Erdoğan - analyst

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan cannot afford to back down from its Syria policies since the crisis in the war-torn country is an existential one for him, analyst Charles Lister wrote for the Telegraph on Saturday.

The recent campaign by the Syrian government on the last rebel-held province of Idlib has raised tensions between Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict.

With hundreds of thousands pushing towards the border with Turkey to escape the advance, Turkey, home to some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, fears a fresh wave of migrants from Idlib where Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, backed by Russian air power, have made rapid advances.

"For Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the crisis across his border is an existential one. Already under domestic pressure to encourage refugees to return to Syria, a huge wave of new refugees would kill his future re-election prospects," Lister said.

Ankara maintains a long-term presence in Idlib and northern Syria to establish calm in the region, citing a possible new wave of refugees and security threats to Turkey by Syrian Kurdish forces.

"Worse still for Turkey, a defeat in Idlib could irreversibly damage its military presence elsewhere in northern Syria, which is viewed internally as a crucially important buffer protecting the homeland from Kurdish-led terrorist threats," the analyst said.