Turkish-US relations tied to the Syrian quagmire

Published 17.11.2018 01:54

As Turkey now works and cooperates with almost all related powers in the Syrian crisis, no one would like to push such a vital political actor to the side of their competitors

When the Syrian civil war erupted, the United States and Turkey got involved in the crisis as two allied powers as opposed to the alliance of the Syrian regime with Iran and Russia. Yet, instead of meeting the rightful demands of the Syrian people for higher standards of living and democracy, superpowers have put their own burdensome interests on the shoulders of the oppressed Syrian people.

In the first phases of the Syrian crisis, there had been a unity of goals between the allied powers of the U.S. and Turkey to such an extent that the U.S. administration was encouraging Turkey to militarily intervene in the Syrian civil war. At the beginning of the crisis, while the Syrian opposition was not appealing for armed struggle, the regime was responding to those actions of civil disobedience with slaughter and bloodshed. With the encouragement of Iran, the regime forced the civil protestors to resort to armed struggle, who have at the end, divided into various opposition groups.

At the beginning of the civil war, the U.S. had stood behind the Syrian opposition. When the Syrian war of independence against the dictatorship of Bashar Assad came to a deadlock by securing the support of Iran and Russia, the U.S. seemed to change its Syrian policy. In this column, we would like to explain the current intentions of the U.S. administration in Syria by laying bare the political background of the Syrian civil war.

In the face of the U.S. administration's efforts to integrate Iran into the global world order, there emerged a confusion regarding U.S. Syrian policy. Abusing the abovementioned political process to its own advantage, Iran has succeeded in becoming an effective power in four Middle Eastern countries. Due to the impotence and hesitancy of the U.S. administration, Iran and Russia have the upper hand in the civil war. When the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed by a terrorist attack and Hillary Clinton resigned from the office of Secretary of State, the U.S. renounced its Syrian policy for a regime shift. Successfully propagated by Iran, the idea that "al-Qaida would have come to power if the Syrian regime was overthrown" made an overwhelming impression among Western decision-makers and in the Western media. Yet, the al-Qaida threat was suddenly replaced by the Daesh threat. With their all-out slaughters carried out by monstrous tormentors, Daesh spread its image of terror to the globe through the use of the internet. Instead of being an organic organization, Daesh seemed to be fabricated by international intelligence services, and seemed to work for the interests of Western colonial powers.As an expired product, Daesh concluded with the emergence of two significant political formations in Syria: First, getting its political legitimacy for its struggle against Daesh, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) was configured in the north of Syria with the support of Iran and the regime, and then seized upon by the U.S. administration. Secondly, interpreting Daesh as Sunni extremism, Iran organized its Shiite militia not only in Syria, but also in Iraq and Iran by encouraging strong sectarianism in the region. In order to exclude Turkey from the Syrian crisis, various terrorist organizations such as from the PKK to Daesh to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) had synchronously carried out a series of terrorist attacks on Turkey. The termination of the Resolution Process and the initiation of the trench terror occurred during such a political period. The arguments about Turkey's asserted support of Daesh and the PKK's war against Daesh, had been serviced into world public opinion by FETÖ members.

At the end of this complicated political process, the interests of the allied powers of the U.S. and Turkey have begun to conflict, rather than converge, with each other in the Syrian context. From time to time, the U.S. and Turkish soldiers have even came close to an armed conflict due to the U.S. support for the PKK/PYD in Syria. After the failed coup of July 15, 2016 and the elimination of military and civil spies in the Turkish state structure, Turkey's political leadership has begun to reconsider Turkey's national interests in Syria in a much more unequivocal manner.Today, all countries involved in the Syrian crisis are fully aware of Turkey's position as an unavoidable regional power. Therefore, all related political powers know well that any resolution or political agendas are doomed to fail without taking Turkey's consent. Taking control of Turkish foreign policy from the more risk-taking branch, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's rational political stance has led to crucial rapprochements with Russia, the U.S. and the EU.

As Turkey now works and cooperates with almost all related powers in the Syrian crisis, no one would like to push such a vital political actor to the side of their competitors. Thus, the U.S. administration has not only put a huge bounty on three senior PKK leaders, but has also reconsidered putting the terrorist leader Fetullah Gülen on their political agenda. In the following period, the course of Turkish-U.S. relations might surprisingly improve, as foreign policy relies on the realistic perspectives of competing powers. The multidimensional and multilateral Turkish foreign policy, I believe, will become all the more effective in the following years.

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