The Syrian debacle, US and Turkey
It is of no use to discuss at this particular moment whether or not Turkey’s “Operation Peace Spring” was a success or not, or whether the visit of the high-powered American team headed by the vice president and the ensuing deal with the United States would indeed serve Turkey’s strategic interests at the end of the day. The “silence of guns” or “diplomacy given a chance” should not be considered as mere slogans, but must mean something tangible on the ground.
The Turkish operation started after months of futile discussions between Turkey and the United States over the withdrawal of the YPG – the terrorists of the PYD that Turkey considered no different than the PKK which has been considered as a terrorist element by the U.S., as well as by most of Turkey’s Western allies. Thus, the failure of Turkey to convince the U.S. and some of its other Western allies to stop supporting and abetting the terrorist elements in northern Syria itself was a sham. The U.S. deciding to give up supporting the YPG or YPG-dominated terrorists in northern Syria was nothing but restoration of normalcy, or a return to reason as fighting terrorism with the help of terrorists in itself was a tragicomedy.
Was the U.S. not aware when, during the waning years of the Barack Obama presidency, it decided to equip and train Syrian Kurds with strong links with the PKK, and some Arabs, to fight ISIL militants, Turkey would be enraged with such a situation? Washington not only turned a blind eye to such a problem but ridiculed the perception capacity of Turks claiming that PKK was a terrorist group, YPG was its Kurdish extension, but the U.S. supported anyhow the SDF – mostly consisting of YPG and PKK elements – headed by a “General Mazloum Kobane.”
Could it be possible that the Americans believed Turks were naïve enough to accept that the SDF was not a terrorist force? Or did the U.S. expect Turks to be so shallow to accept and embrace the so-called “General Mazloum Kobane” – who ordered many attacks on civilian and military targets and thus murder of scores of Turks over the past many years – as a partner in the fight against ISIL?
Turkey, of course, has its own restrictive and problematic Kurdish understanding. Over the years, the country has come a long way from the “mountain Turks” fairytale to the recognition of the “Kurdish reality,” the insincere Kurdish opening to the present-day trustees in many mayoral seats and imprisoned deputies… The country is compelled to solve this most important problem which has been crippling its economy, national peace as well as performance as a regional power.
Yet, no Turkish government could turn a blind eye to the creation of a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria with the support of the U.S., similar to what happened in northern Iraq during the previous decade. Such a development might be required for Israel’s security, or serve the ambition of the U.S. to control the oil wells and the oil flow, but would be detrimental to Turkey’s own national and territorial integrity.
It was indeed rather difficult to understand why for years the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government remained a silent spectator to efforts by the Americans, French, British and some other Western allies of Turkey to nourish the PYD, an official Syrian political party, as a successor of the PKK (as if it was anything different)?
Now Turkey is trying to get out of the consequences of the wrong steps it was compelled to take by its Western allies through measures advised to it in the worst pejorative diplomatic correspondence the world might have witnessed. Why does it remain crippled in not seeing the bare requirement that the way out is reengaging with Syria’s official government in this debacle?
With millions of refugees, billions of dollars spent to finance the refugees, or the war machine, Turkey must wake up and see the reality: There will be no way out from this quicksand without collaborating with Damascus.