Washington needs Ankara to balance out Russia

Published 28.11.2017 21:18

The Sochi meeting proves how Turkey's partnership is vital to Washington to regain a say in Syria and the Middle East

One of the most significant turning points was marked on Wednesday last week, with regard to the Syrian civil war. It has been ongoing for seven years now, and turned into a power struggle between the global powers over the years. It can safely be argued that a transition from the military phase to a reconstruction period was introduced with the summit in Sochi that gathered President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

This is a crucial step as it demonstrates that a conflict that has so far claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands has finally started to wane. It must be remembered that any kind of peace is far better than war. In addition, the reconstruction of Syria more or less corresponds to the reconstruction of the Middle East, so taking agency in this process is a dominant factor in determining future balances of power.

Only two years ago, Turkey was undermined and excluded from the developments in Syria on the pretext of the downed Russian jet incident. Over the past two years, however, the country managed to change the game to such an extent that it turned out to be one of the three architects of peace today. Turkey's ability to establish good relations with Russia will both increase the country's influence in the Middle East and remind people of the fact that it is an indispensable and significant country for the U.S.

I am especially putting emphasis on Russia since the country unquestionably achieved a lot to become the playmaker in Syria. Due to its zigzagging policies and former U.S. President Barack Obama's plans to withdraw from the Middle East, the U.S. has lost the chance to be the main actor in the region. But despite the mistakes it has made, the U.S. still wishes to maintain its power in Syria.

So,, the country is for sure in need of Turkey's partnership. U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement of cutting weapon aid to the outlawed PKK's Syrian armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), must be evaluated in this context. With the message it gave in Sochi, Turkey convinced the U.S. to the impossibility of achieving the desired results in Syria without Turkey in the equation. The country strengthened its hand against the U.S. as a result of the relations it has developed with Russia.

Accordingly, what will happen regarding the YPG issue? It must be noted that this group is also supported by Russia alongside the U.S. How will the U.S.'s recent announcement of cutting weapon aid to the YPG affect Russia?

So, we need to look at Russia's motives in supporting the YPG and the extent of the support provided. Russia is backing up the YPG to relieve its militants from U.S. domination. If relations between the U.S. and the YPG happen to weaken and the U.S. shows sensitivity toward Turkey's red lines and limits its aid to the YPG, Russia will also decline its support.

In a nutshell, the U.S.'s move of cutting weapon aid to the YPG might lead Russia to change its YPG policy. However, Ankara must give acceleration to the relations with Washington to that end. Of course, how this can happen remains unknown in the face of the Reza Zarrab case, which seems to be a controversial political scheme. But at this point, Washington needs Turkey a great deal to balance out Russia.

Consequently, this need might also influence the result of the Zarrab case, which is used as a weapon against Ankara. It is true that all the roads in the world somehow lead to the Middle East.

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