Turkey, US in talks over east of Euphrates
This past week marked three important developments in regards to Syria and bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States.
Turkey on Oct. 28 resumed hitting YPG positions in the east of River Euphrates and continued shelling them throughout the week along the Turkish-Syrian border between Kobane and Zor Magar regions.
The second important development occurred as Turkish and American troops launched a long-anticipated joint patrolling mission around Syria’s Manbij city after Turkey’s strong criticisms against the U.S. for deliberately delaying the process.
The third came on Nov. 2 through simultaneous statements from Turkey and the U.S. in which they have announced that both countries lifted sanctions they had imposed against each other in August over the continued detention of pastor Andrew Brunson.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke over the phone late Nov. 1, with both sides voicing their determination in improving bilateral ties and agreeing to meet in person on Nov. 11 in Paris.
Turkey’s expectations that it would be exempted from U.S. sanctions on Iran have risen as senior U.S. officials hinted that they don’t want to harm their allies who are heavily dependent on Iranian oil. This is also seen as an important signal for the future of bilateral ties.
As can be seen, there is currently a two-phased diplomatic traffic between Turkey and the U.S.
The first concerns the bilateral face of ties and the other is about issues concerning Syria. Although there are concrete steps to ameliorate bilateral ties, the Syrian dimension has the potential of introducing fresh disputes between the two allies and may cast a shadow on the gradual improvement on bilateral ties.
That’s why Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal was dispatched to Washington D.C. on Nov. 2. He was set to hold extensive talks with his counterparts on Syria, particularly on the continued partnership of the U.S. with the YPG.
The U.S., on the other hand, is wary of Turkey’s attacks on the YPG on grounds that it could undermine the ongoing joint fight against ISIL.
Senior U.S. officials indirectly warned Turkey over the attacks on the YPG and called on both parties to de-escalate tension and re-focus on the anti-jihadist fight.
Turkey says these offensives on the YPG are legitimate, in accordance with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter and aim at eliminating the YPG’s capacity to pose threats against Turkey.
A White House statement following the Trump-Erdoğan phone call called for coordination in Syria in an indirect message to Turkey and said its unilateral offensive on the YPG is a matter of concern in the U.S.
At this very point that signals both sides’ willingness to mend broken ties, Turkey and the U.S. should obviously find a rational way to resolve their differences in regards to Syria and coordinate their respective policies to avoid future disputes.