It might be a deficiency that American "Turkey experts" do not touch on the rising anti-Turkism in the U.S. and EU countries, while they write about anti-Americanism in Turkey. It might be a deficiency that these American Turkey experts do not elaborate on the fact that the people of Turkey, who they try to present as more anti-American than even Iran, did not burn a single American flag during the anti-coup demonstrations in the streets for 21 days. It seems what will determine the future of Turkey-U.S. relations is neither the issue of Fethullah Gülen's extradition, nor the claims that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had a hand in the July 15 coup attempt, but, most probably, the possibility that the U.S. will turn a deaf ear to all of Turkey's warnings and requests and will ally with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People's Protection Units (YPG), which are the Syrian branches of the PKK.
Turkey made efforts to give this alliance a chance. It allowed the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) peshmerga troops to pass their heavy weapons through Turkish territory during the siege of Kobani and expressed appreciation for the removal of DAESH from Kobani. Turkey stipulated that the PYD could not pass to the west of the Euphrates. However, this sole redline was ignored by the U.S. As opposed to U.S. President Barack Obama, who is known for allowing his redlines to be contravened; it is no secret that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not a political actor of this nature. Even though Turkey has mopped up DAESH in Jarablus, Ankara said it will not leave Syria unless the YPG threat ends and the organization withdraws to the east of the Euphrates.
Things might get hot at this point. The first indicator is that, despite Turkey's call, coalition aircrafts did not respond when the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fought DAESH in al-Kulliyah. Moreover, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass was summoned by the Foreign Ministry after U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter identified the TSK with the YPG in a statement. The following remarks by Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgiç foreshadow what is on the horizon:
"We expect that our ally, the U.S., will soon fulfill its commitment that any PYD or YPG elements will not remain in the west of the Euphrates after Manbij is purified of DAESH as it pledged before the operation that was launched on Manbij city center in June. Following U.S. authorities' statements on the scope and objectives of Operation Euphrates Shield, high-level, necessary steps were taken in the presence of the U.S. ambassador to Ankara and it was underlined that such statements were by no means acceptable and they went against the alliance's laws."
It seems Turkey endured more than it could, given that a badge of the PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan was found on the YPG militants who killed one Turkish soldier during the clash with the TSK in Amarnah a couple of days ago. Moreover, on behalf of the YPG, Brett McGurk, the U.S.'s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter DAESH, gave a plaque to Polat Can, a former PKK militant who perpetrated terrorist attacks in Turkey. Also, two PKK terrorists, who carried out a suicide attack in Turkey on behalf of the PKK, were trained in the YPG ranks and entered Turkey from Syria, and the PKK's senior commander, Duran Kalkan, announced that he would transfer "more" forces to Syria.
If the U.S. rejects the reasonable request of an old ally, then we can foresee a noteworthy wave of anti-Americanism and a breakdown of relations.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.