Tent for a tent in Brussels
We had two pains, both of which brought Turkey into a head-on collision with its allies.
One of them is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) tent incident at the EU capital of Brussels that came like a stab at a time when our relations were improving.
The other one is the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that was like a black cat between us and the U.S.
With both of them, we forced our allies to make a precise choice; they had to choose us or a bloody terror organization.
In the end, even though we were absolutely right, somehow we faced the risk of losing our strategic allies to a terror organization. Indeed, they did not choose anybody over us but they did not opt for our theses either.
They did not abandon PYD, the tent or us. Interests did not overlap; the methods and dynamics did not coincide.
No matter what we did or said, we were unable to convince Brussels to not allow the PKK again to erect a tent, and the U.S. that the PYD was exactly like the PKK, a downright terror organization.
The removed tents were erected again and the U.S. insisted on not identifying the PYD with the PKK. While it called one a terror organization it resisted calling the other the same.
Ankara was angry and this anger made our relations worse. We were disappointed but our efforts went nowhere.
We were isolated, weakened and defeated. The PKK was about to succeed in poisoning our already strained relationships with the EU and the U.S.
Two news stories the other day showed that we were no longer acting emotionally. First, one was when Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke to the Voice of America radio and declared that because we thought differently than the U.S. regardşng the PYD, it did not mean we will be cross with the U.S. Apparently, Ankara will try other ways to eliminate our differences of opinion. It will adopt a subtle strategy…
The second good news is from Brussels. The head of the Belgium branch of Union of European Turkish Democrats (UETD), Basir Hamarat, said they were going to erect a tent across from the European Parliament to show the true face of the PKK. They did so.
Turkey has given up imposing its views and demands in a dry manner; it has started talking in a language its interlocutors understand.
If the PYD had been able to emerge as an independent and rational actor in Syria, stripping itself from the guidance of Kandil, then it would be able to work with Turkey. Its leader, Salih Müslüm, would have shuttled to and from Ankara. That door had been opened and practiced. But it chose to be a guided power.
Turkey could not have partnered with a PYD under the command of the PKK while it was fighting the PKK. It was not a logical expectation. The relationship was severed.
However, our friend and ally the U.S., despite the reaction from Turkey, separated the PYD from the PKK. It said it does not see it as a terror organization and instead, it sees it as a legitimate partner in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
One option could have been to slam the door and tell them to go to hell. The other was to stand firm without a showdown. I think we are doing the latter now.
I guess we will be able to save our relations with the West from the reservations of the PKK. We are eliminating its initiative to destroy our relationships.
It was this stance that was behind the former foreign policy victories of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
I hope I am not wrong.