The U.S. decision to back a Syrian terrorist group in the region will make things difficult for Trump during his meeting with Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his American counterpart Donald Trump will be meeting at the Oval Office today and the U.S. head of state faces the tough task of convincing the Turkish leader that the American decision to arm the Syrian Kurdish terrorists is not a bad idea.
Ankara says the Kurdish terrorists of Syria are an extension of the PKK terrorist organization that has been waging a secessionist war in Turkey for the past four decades and that any arms given to them means a boost to the PKK… and the PKK is on the list of terrorist organizations of the U.S.
On the other hand, the Americans say the Syrian Kurdish terrorists are needed in the fight against Daesh. The U.S. is using the Syrian Kurds to push Daesh out of the Syrian city of Raqqa and President Trump signed an order last week to provide arms and equipment to the Syrian Kurds just before Erdoğan's trip to Washington.
Erdoğan hopes to convince Trump to reverse this decision while the American leader hopes to convince his Turkish counterpart that the Raqqa operation can only be carried out with the help of the Syrian Kurdish terrorists and hopes to provide guarantees to ease deep Turkish concerns.
Whether all this can happen remains to be seen but it is clear that President Erdoğan is sick and tired of being taken for a ride by Washington during the rule of the Obama administration and wants to walk out of the Oval Office with some clear answers and decisions that will be carried out. That is why he has told Turkish journalists his meeting with Trump will yield a full stop and not a comma.
President Trump has been convinced by his advisors that any operation against Daesh can only be carried out successfully by forces that include the Syrian Kurds who provide about 27 thousand terrorists and cannot be achieved by a Turkish supported force of Syrian fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They say that the Turkish force that pushed Daesh out of a chunk of northern Syria can only secure the areas liberated from Daesh and cannot be used to liberate Raqqa.
So the American strategy is really based on trying to sell to Erdoğan the idea that if and when the U.S. uses the Syrian Kurdish terrorists to liberate Raqqa arming the Kurds will not work against Turkey. But this is easier said than done.
Is the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People's Protection Units (YPG) doing all this and prepared to sacrifice thousands of young Kurdish lives to capture Raqqa for the love of the U.S.? Or have they been promised something else in the future by the American commanders that is motivating them to make such sacrifices? Have they been promised an autonomous region in northeastern Syria that will eventually turn into an independent mini-state just on Turkey's doorstep?
We hear from Washington that President Trump is preparing to tell his Turkish guest that the U.S. vehemently opposes the establishment of a Kurdish state, not only in Iraq but also in Syria. Yet it is clear that the PYD and the YPG expects something in return for participating in the Raqqa operation and that is not a golden handshake.
How Trump can persuade Erdoğan to agree to any PYD or YPG involvement in a military operation in Raqqa remains to be seen. It is said the U.S. will give strong guarantees to Turkey that the PYD will not be allowed to become a threat to Turkey, that it will distance itself from the PKK and act in a more democratic manner — allowing other Kurdish parties to function in northern Syria — that Turkey will have a say on how the area is run and even the evacuation of Manbij by the Syrian Kurdish terrorists, and that the YPG must return their heavy arms once the Raqqa operation is over. But will Erdoğan buy such guarantees and is he even prepared to buy any at all remains to be seen.
It is clear that Trump will have a hard time convincing Erdoğan, who has had the bad experience of being misled by former President Barack Obama several times in the past.
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