We all make mistakes for which we later feel remorse. We self-critically scrutinize the reasons behind those mistakes. Although they hurt us whenever they come to mind, we know that they cannot be unmade. The present condition of Turkish-American relations appears to be the result of such a series of arbitrary and continual mistakes.
1- Before the eruption of the Syrian civil war, there had been no significant difference of opinion regarding common foreign policy issues between the administrations of Turkey and the United States. Yet, as the civil war erupted, then-President Barack Obama's administration showed a lack of leadership in organizing the U.S. regional allies of, i.e., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf countries, under a common goal and vision. Eventually, all these countries not only struggled against Iran, but also competed among themselves during the whole course of the Syrian civil war.
2- As the Obama administration worked to integrate Iran into the world order, the Iranian political elite manipulated the regional vision of the American political elite. The fear about a possible rise of al-Qaida by the fall of Bashar Assad discouraged the Obama administration from a regime change in Syria. Pursuing senseless alliances, the Obama administration strengthened the front constituted by Iran and the Syrian regime.
3- The lack of leadership awakened Russia, the sleeping giant putting a challenge to the U.S. in the region extending from the Caspian to the Mediterranean. While the U.S. entered the process of presidential campaigns for its election, Russia became the super military power in the region.
4- While the U.S.'s allies remain dispersed, Russia's entrance into the battlefield by invitation of Iran turned the weakened Syrian regime into the strongest party in the ongoing civil war.
5- The mistrust of the U.S. administration in the Syrian oppositional groups concluded with their weakening in the battlefield.
6- While the murderous Daesh, the most bloodthirsty terrorist organization in history, turned all political calculations upside down, it turned out to be not a religious, but a Western innovation. In a similar vein, the seemingly moderate Gülenists emerged as the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), a fanatic organization that atrociously murdered hundreds of people during its failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 in Turkey. Religious in appearance, both Daesh and FETÖ have been controlled by Western powers.
7- While the U.S. administration declared Daesh as the principal target of the coalition forces in Syria, the extensive territory it controlled passed into the hands of the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) People's Protection Units (YPG), which emerged from the PKK like a matryohskha doll.
8- Abandoning its allies, the U.S. took the YPG, the Syrian extension of the PKK, as its principal ally in Syria.
9- With the lack of U.S. leadership, while Russia reconsolidated its military power in the region, Iran has become a regional power whose political influence extends from Iran to Yemen.
10- Protecting the YPG from Iran and the Syrian regime, the U.S. handed over all of northern Syria to the terrorist organization. Although Daesh was mostly defeated, the U.S. continues to support the YPG under the veil of the fight against Daesh.
11- After Donald Trump became the president of the U.S., many political experts expected the reconsolidation of its alliance with Turkey under the traditional Republic perspective. Yet, as the Obama administration left the U.S. deadlocked in the Syrian civil war, the Trump administration has come to a crossroads where they have to choose between the U.S.'s historical ally or a terrorist organization.
12- While the political discourses of the U.S. administration tries to hold up and distract Turkey from acting against the YPG, the ongoing meeting between American and Turkish officials will either lead to certain ameliorations or deeper crises.
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