Trump's troubles stem from Obama's misguided legacy in Syria

Published 21.12.2018 22:04
Updated 22.12.2018 08:00

When the Syrian civil war became deadlocked, I penned an article for the Turkish daily Star that made an overwhelming impression on Turkish public opinion. Entitled "Obama's Misguided Policies Inflame Terror in the Middle East," the article argued that the Syrian people's legitimate demand to live in a democratic and prosperous country could not have been rightfully taken into consideration by the U.S. administration.

The U.S. administration's zeal to integrate Iran into the world order concluded with an overpowering of Iran in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen through its militia forces. Rather, the political influence of Turkey, one of the principal allies of the U.S. in the Middle East, was weakened in Syria, simply because the Syrian opposition groups that Turkey and the U.S. had been supporting were abandoned by the Obama administration.

What's more, U.S. policy on Syria had fallen prey to the Iranian and Syrian arguments. First, the Obama administration seemed convinced that the prospective fall of Bashar Assad would conclude with al-Qaida coming to power. Then, the threat of al-Qaida was replaced by that of Daesh, which emerged suddenly and mysteriously. Rapidly turning to the first priority of all states involved in the Syrian crisis, Daesh did not, however, wage a war against the Syrian regime. Instead, they occupied parts of Syria and Iraq. When they attempted to occupy Kobane, Turkey got involved in the crisis and defeated Daesh. It was Turkey's mistake at that time not to go further by wiping Daesh from Syria completely, as land controlled by Daesh was handed over to the PKK.

American impotence in Syria not only exacerbated terror in the Middle East, but also demonstrated that the post-Cold War era has been stamped by a multipolar, rather than a unipolar, international system. Thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin's cunning policies, Russia has reappeared on the world stage. While the Obama administration had been busy integrating Iran into the world order, Russia silently but unbendingly emerged as a true rival of NATO not only in Syria, but also in the Mediterranean and the Baltic seas.

As an ally of the U.S. and a supporter of legitimate Syrian opposition groups, Turkey had been greatly restricted in its region of influence. Until we moved away from American policies and adopted our own independent attitude in Syria, terrorist organizations from the PKK to Daesh and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) realized multiple slaughters in Turkish lands. Then, Turkey naturally decided to resolve its own security problems. Wiping out Daesh in Syria, Turkey succeeded in standing against the security threats that those terrorist organizations posed outside its southern borders. Meanwhile, the PKK was devastated by the Turkish army inside and outside Turkey. In other words, as soon as Turkey gave up its hopes of acquiring the unconditional support of the U.S., its military and political achievements began to appear one after another.

As a 40-year-long terrorist organization, the PKK has always been a bloodthirsty terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians, particularly Kurdish people. Threatening the native population with violence, the PKK has eliminated all other democratic Kurdish organizations by assassinating their leaders and members one by one.

With the cooperation between the Syrian regime and Iran and the support of the U.S., the PKK acquired control of northern Syria. "The Daesh threat" legitimized the existence of two paramilitary organizations, i.e. the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Iranian Hashd al-Shaabi, which was as bloodthirsty as Daesh and the PKK themselves.

Today, U.S. President Donald Trump put his plan to withdraw the U.S. from Syria into action, which was one of his electoral promises. Once seen as an ally of an imperial power, the PKK now appears to be extremely anxious about its own survival. Indeed, they awkwardly declared that if the U.S. administration left the PKK alone, this murderer of at least 50,000 people, then another terrorist organization would take the upper hand in Syria. Now, they even threaten the U.S. administration with releasing captive Daesh terrorists. Yet, both the U.S. and the world know that Daesh and the PKK are nothing but paper tigers. After enjoying a brief period of being an ally of an imperial power, the PKK now seems to be squashed under the feet of an elephant.

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