Washington's give-and-take with terrorist organizations

Published 03.12.2017 20:56

What Washington needs to do today, more significantly than ever, is to seek ways to mend its relations with Ankara

If anyone ever asks what the most serious disagreements between Turkey and the United States were, there would be two correct answers: First, Washington's decision to aid and abet members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Second, it's the American support for the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in northern Syria.

Although Turkey's concerns about the U.S. government's relationship with Fetullah Gülen has been systematically downplayed in Washington, the truth is that U.S.-FETÖ cooperation is not sustainable. Gülen is already quite old and the organization is unlikely to survive his inevitable death. As such, FETÖ is an asset for the United States that is quickly depreciating in value. To make matters worse, the damage that America's relationship with FETÖ has inflicted on Turkey-U.S. relations will be long-lasting, even though Gülen will stop posing a threat to Turkish interests soon.

Washington's relationship with PKK terrorists, however, is quite different, since the United States made a long-term commitment to working with that group. Under the circumstances, it is a serious national security threat for Turkey.

This relationship, which is based on mutual interests, was born out of the Syrian civil war. Over the past years, the United States did not hesitate to develop its relationship with PKK-PYD militants despite repeated warnings by Turkey. Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. provided a large number of weapons and armored vehicles to PKK terrorists and encouraged the group to expand its territories inside Syria to become complicit in their war crimes. The most recent comments by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who suggested that YPG militants should be transformed into a local police force, hinted that Washington was going to try and legitimize a group of terrorists by handing them official uniforms. As such, it is no secret that the U.S. wants to create an autonomous region in northern Syria under PKK-PYD control in an effort to set up military bases there and control the area.

Whenever such comments are made about Washington's plans in northern Syria, some of our American friends accuse us of being unfair. However, it would be naïve to think that the U.S. wants to do anything but what was described above. There's no hiding from the facts anymore, provided that a highly-placed source inside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) last week confirmed the claims.

Talal Silo, spokesman for the SDF – of which the YPG remains the main component – and its third most senior member, recently defected to Turkey and was interviewed by Anadolu Agency after his interrogation by the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). The historic interview with Silo established just how serious America's relationship with the terrorists was: "The SDF is nothing but a name. We received everything including our salaries from the YPG. The U.S. government wanted to arm the Kurds and the establishment of the SDF was staged. The Americans did not care where the weapons would go. Not even once did they ask what we had done with the weapons or where they had been used. They even bought into the lies of the YPG when they said that they had run out of weapons. Immediately, new weapons were delivered to the group. At first, we had to sign documents provided by the Americans that we had received the weapons. But all weapons were actually shipped to a senior PKK leader called Safkan. The SDF was established so that [the Americans] could say that they were sending weapons to the SDF as opposed to the YPG."

Such were the comments of the SDF's third most senior figure. Now it is Washington's turn to start thinking how they will repair their relations with Turkey.

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