Syria Situation Report: July 16 - 22, 2016

The failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15 will generate significant upheaval in the Syrian Civil War. Turkish President Recep Erdogan will likely direct his attention inward over the coming months in order to purge his domestic rivals and consolidate his power. This distraction will likely disrupt the flow of material, financial, and intelligence support provided to opposition groups by Turkey, enabling short-term military gains by a number of actors including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Syrian Kurdish YPG may also exploit this moment in order to take further steps towards the establishment of an autonomous federal region along the Syrian-Turkish Border while Turkey remains incapable of mustering a coherent military response. At the same time, the ongoing political instability threatens the continued ability of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition to conduct air operations out of Incirlik Airbase in Southern Turkey, presenting a complication to ongoing military efforts that could slow the current momentum against ISIS in Northern Syria. Over the long-term, the ongoing purges will likely allow Erdogan to remove the internal obstacles that prevented him from pursuing deeper intervention into the Syrian Civil War, including the provision of advanced weapons to the opposition or the establishment of a ‘safe zone’ along the border. Erdogan will likely augment these policies with expanded aid to Salafi-Jihadist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham that provide a support network for Al-Qaeda in Syria. The coup thus threatens to fuel the spread of radicalization and regional disorder.

This graphic marks the latest installment of our Syria SITREP Map made possible through a partnership between the Institute for the Study of War and Syria Direct.