Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened an operation in Idlib, northern Syria, against the Russian-backed Syrian regime on Wednesday, as Turkey-Russia talks appeared to have stalled in Moscow since Monday.Turkey wants Russia to agree to a deal in Idlib, but Turkey also wants to appear the victor and get some dignity back after a humiliating defeat for Syrian opposition forces in the last month that sent 900,000 Syrians fleeing. Turkey is in a difficult position because Syrian rebels feel they have been abandoned amid Turkish promises to give them land and security. Instead, Turkey shipped them to Libya to fight a war for its energy interests there.Now, with 900,000 people fleeing the Syrian regime offensive, Turkey sees a growing disaster on its border. It sent its foreign minister to Munich to speak with the Russians at a security conference and then sent a team to Moscow.Usually, Russia and Turkey act as allies on deals like the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system. But Turkey’s president requires a monthly crisis to cement his role in power for the next decade.On Tuesday, Turkey re-arrested a civil society activist after a court dared to challenge the ruling party. As Turkey veers into increasing authoritarianism, military operations are necessary to keep the public distracted. Turkey has poured troops into Idlib, including thousands of men and armored vehicles. Now Erdogan says an operation is only a “matter of time.”But Turkey’s overall goal is multifold. It wants to pressure the US to support it in Idlib; it hints at seeking new trade relations with the US worth $100 billion; it wants the EU to stop meddling with its power grab in Libya, and it uses Idlib and refugees to make the EU back off; it wants NATO and the UN to support its role in northern Syria; and it wants the S-400s and TurkStream pipeline deals from Russia, which it has worked on since 2017. With so many issues up in the air, Ankara mixes threats with willingness to climb down on some issues.Turkey’s problem is that it put observation posts in northern Syria which have been surrounded or overtaken by the regime.Now the UN has called for corridors to be opened in northern Syria for civilians.For Syria’s regime, this is a point of pride. The regime has retaken areas around Aleppo and wants to restart civilian flights to the city. It wants to push the Turks back.But Syria’s army is no match for Turkey’s, so Russia must decide. Ankara hopes its threats will bring the Russians to the table, both on Syria and Libya and other issues.