Turkey-US relations head towards point of no-return
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Dec. 12 announced that a military operation to the east of the Euphrates River would begin “in a few days.”
A day earlier he had said that it can start “at any given moment.”
These statements, coupled with the news of increased military preparations on the Syrian border, puts Turkish-U.S. relations on a high-voltage line.
If this tension continues to increase and is not taken under control, despite the telephone call made between Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump last week, a break that could surpass the “resolution” and “sack” crises – that happened during the U.S.’s intervention in Iraq in 2003 – can occur.
Since Erdoğan binds himself to this extent in the face of public opinion and describes the operation as a vital necessity in terms of Turkey’s interest, so long as the U.S. does not make a meaningful gesture or take a step back in some way, postponing or suspending the operation for Ankara seems like a remote possibility.
The exercise of power Turkey has undertaken should be seen as a strategic move aimed at restraining the U.S. administration’s intentions in the east of Euphrates, forcing a change in the country’s demeanor.
However, when looked at the huge gap created by the differences in fundamental attitudes of both countries regarding the east of Euphrates and YPG/PYD, a margin to reconcile the divergence does not exist in reality.
At the very end of this conflict lies U.S.’s intention on settling in the east of Euphrates in Syria, a region that covers almost a third of the country, after eliminating the ISIL threat.
The U.S. plans to exist in the region through the alliance it formed with the YPG/PYD – the PKK’s extension in Syria.
As a matter of fact, the statements of the U.S. Chief of General Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford made at a defense forum organized by the Washington Post on Dec. 6 are suggestive in this manner.
Dunford stressed the need to train a local force of 35,000-40,000 people in order to ensure security, by referring to the SDF for stabilization in the region in the period after ISIL. According to Dunford, only 20 percent of this target has been met.
Dunford also talked about the need for effective management services at the local level with efforts of U.S. foreign affairs. The SDF is primarily made up of YPG/PYD elements.
These statements indicate that the U.S. is also preparing for the shaping of the social and administrative structure of this region in the period which will start after the elimination of ISIL.
At the other end of the conflict lies the serious level of inconvenience Turkey feels due to the U.S. plans.
Ankara sees such statements and signs from the field as a confirmation of the U.S. administration’s assessment of a state-like restructuring of Kurds in Syria.
Ankara considers the U.S. army’s building of observation towers across the Turkish border in Syria as a step taken by Washington to protect the YPG/PYD.
Within this framework, the operation Turkey plans to conduct has the strategic objective to disrupt the U.S.’s intentions in the region which has Kobane and Jazira cantons, under the YPG/PYD control, adjacent to the border in the east of Euphrates.
The aim is to put an end to the geographic integrity of Jazira-Kobane cantons and their uninterrupted continuity along the border by forming a pocket area under the control of the Turkish military.
After all, Turkey and the U.S. have embarked on a major power struggle on the territory of Syria through military moves they made on the future of Syria.
Two NATO allies are positioned along the Syrian border with two hostile identities. And in this conflict, the U.S. is in alliance with the extensions of the PKK, which is a terrorist organization. Thus, the U.S.’s alliance with Turkey has upended.
In fact, even solely, this image tells us that the alliance between the U.S. and Turkey is now turned into a forced formality on paper.