A withdrawal of the US troops from Syria announced this week by US President Donald Trump has received mixed reactions in the world. Trump made it clear that from now on, the fight against ISIS (banned in the Russian Federation) on the Syrian territory should be conducted by Russia, Iran and Syrians themselves. Trump did not mention Turkey, although analysts believe that the withdrawal of the US troops from the SAR was coordinated with Ankara. Yesterday, Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Ankara is conducting intensive work in preparation for the military operation in Syria, particularly in Manbij and in the east of the Euphrates. Ankara also said that the United States would not be able to prevent this operation.
As Hurriyet Daily News writes in the article Turkey-US relations head towards point of no-return, 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 (banned in Russia).
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. 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.
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. 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.