Stuck in Syria, the US looks for a way out with the PKK

Published 12.11.2018 23:08

It is still unknown whether the United States will uphold its recent decision to put a bounty on three senior PKK members. The most asked question is if the U.S., which currently backs PKK-affiliated groups in Syria, has a deeper plan against Turkey behind its PKK move or is it simply trying to open a new page with Ankara? Reports claimed that Turkish-U.S. ties have hit rock bottom because Washington has been providing arms to the PKK's offshoots in Syria, namely the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

This very U.S. approach is not something new. Washington has been looking for ways to save its damaged influence in Syria and to maintain its presence in the region. Therefore, its decision on the PKK may be directly related to that.

In early 2018, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, "We [the U.S.] can make the YPG fight against the PKK."

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also stated, "We can disarm the PKK and provide the end of its armed struggle against Turkey. Turkey should consent to the PYD formation in Syria…"

As I previously wrote many times, in the light of these statements, it was and is still clear that Turkey cannot accept such a demand, and the U.S. is stuck in Syria. Washington was and is still plans to use its PKK policy as a way out to pursue its campaign in the country. For that purpose, it is using discrepancies within PKK leadership. According to some media reports, there is an ongoing debate about the PKK's formation – the terrorist group will either go on under the influence of the pro-Iranian or pro-U.S. policies. It was even claimed that many pro-Iranian members, like Mustafa Karasu, in the non-state group were expelled from Syria.

The U.S. has been preparing a bigger policy in the region. First, Ankara must consider what the U.S.' final goal is and second, what should Turkey do? These two important issues need immediate answers.

It is clear that neither Turkey nor the U.S. is willing to confront one another on the ground in the area east of Euphrates River. In order to gain a permanent presence there, the U.S. is clinging to the PKK-affiliated PYD by using its "fight" against Daesh as a pretext. The U.S.' sole target is not only to have a say in the future of Syria but to have a strong hand that enables it to pressure Ankara, threaten Iran and, more importantly, "provide the security of Israel."

Cautious of the U.S.' motives, Turkey is taking a contrary position and does not want to be part of its plan. Therefore, Ankara doesn't believe in the U.S.' strategy to separate the PKK from the PYD or YPG and finds its claim of transforming the 40-year old bloody terrorist group more than funny.

The region is facing a complicated situation. At this point, it is rumored that neither the international community nor the Arab world wants a formation in Damascus that takes orders or directives from the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, or the group's headquarters in the Qandil Mountains.

According to some, Washington is also well aware of this fact and thus is stuck in Syria. It has realized that the PKK will receive a big blow in the region sooner or later, therefore, it is trying to normalize relations with Turkey. Parallel with these claims, the U.S. announced its bounty on PKK leaders. This is why Ankara is being cautious about the U.S. action. Meanwhile, it is also unknown how Russia and Iran, who have worked with Turkey on many issues in Syria, will react. Although many questions remain, one thing is for sure – the U.S.' actions are unintentionally making Turkey more influential and powerful both on the ground and in international politics.

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