Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's visit to Ankara was important on many levels. Graham is a prominent voice in foreign affairs in Washington and a close ally to U.S. President Donald Trump. Why he came and what he said is therefore very critical. First of all, this was definitely not a personal trip. He came as part of the dialogue between Turkey and the Trump administration, and discussed critical issues with great precision. One of the reasons he came was to better understand Turkey's position and concerns on Trump's plan to pullout from Syria. It is known that Turkey has long been saying that the U.S. should stop supporting terrorist groups affiliated with the PKK, which uses different names in Syrian territory. It is also known that Turkey is disturbed by the fact that these terrorist and separatist groups are being presented as freedom fighters by some circles in the West, including in the media.
To tell the truth, all involved governments know perfectly well that the PKK and its affiliated groups are terrorist organizations with the blood of innocent people on their hands. They also know which countries provide them weapons and help them in many other ways. They are also aware that these terrorist organizations are the main factors blocking the necessary democratic reforms needed by citizens of Kurdish origin in different countries. They all know that, by they do nothing about that, because they have other strategic goals, interests, rivalries and expectations.
Graham, who is very familiar with Turkey, knew all that, too. In other words, it is not like he just discovered while in Ankara that the People's Protection Units (YPG) are a terrorist organization affiliated with the PKK and a security concern for Turkey. Maybe Trump did not know all this because he was being informed differently, who knows. Maybe he finally said to himself, "but why on Earth is Turkey is angry at the U.S.?"
Trump probably discovered that the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the YPG and Daesh are just parts of a much bigger puzzle. He learned that these organizations do not serve American interests in the long run and that they play a role in the strategies of many other countries. Maybe he had enough that this kind of organizations manipulate the U.S., or he understood that losing an ally country for the sake of a terrorist group does not make any sense, after all. Trump is probably aware, too, that supporting the PYD/YPG was first former President Barack Obama's idea.
Trump sent one of his closest supporters to Turkey to listen to the latter's arguments. Turkey showed the senator solid evidence about the nature and the links of these organizations, and explained how it is possible to both stabilize Syria and to fight against all terrorist groups simultaneously. Graham was probably satisfied with what he heard, as he made crystal clear comments after his meeting.
He emphasized that the YPG is nothing but a wing of the PKK, which is on the U.S. list of terrorist groups. He insinuated that it was wrong to support a terrorist organization, which was an indirect warning for Western countries who still support it, such as France.
Moreover, he said he understood the importance of pulling out without harming Turkey's security. We can guess that the U.S. will now take care of the YPG threat by itself.
The U.S. is clearly changing its position on supporting terrorist groups, but of course, if Trump respects the current trajectory. This is quite positive for Turkey's security concerns, and it will also put pressure on other countries who insist on supporting these groups for different reasons. One may say many things about Trump, and especially criticize him, but we can give him credit for one thing. It is probably clear to everyone that he gets very angry at opportunists and does something about them.
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