Mr. Mattis, weapons given to terrorists can never be reclaimed without a fight

Published 24.06.2017 23:34
Updated 24.06.2017 23:35

Washington definitely discerns the conventional wisdom that says: Regret for the things you did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things you did not do that is inconsolable. Friends, let alone allies, don't send weapons to each other's enemies.

Incidents where Washington disappointed its allies in Ankara are too many to count. Most recently, the United States supplied the terrorist ranks of the People's Protection Units (YPG) militias with weapons and sophisticated ammunition on the pretext that they will spearhead the battle to recapture Raqqa, the de facto capital of Daesh in Syria.

Washington has repeatedly brushed aside Ankara's irrefutable evidence that the YPG is an extension of the outlawed PKK terrorist organization, which has terrorized Turkey for more than three decades. The YPG would rather be worse in case its affiliates are empowered and allowed to attain their vicious dream of having a statelet on the borders with Turkey.

By their consecutive and unexplainable measures, American administrations haven't left room for Turkey to trust them. On the one hand, they relentlessly proclaim the indispensable importance of Turkey, and on the other hand, they save no effort to ruin every possibility of mending wounds.

It was not only Turkey that exposed the veiled malicious intentions of the YPG: Reports from Amnesty international presented unequivocal testimonies of Turkmens and Arabs in Syria who have been forcibly evicted from their villages and houses. The YPG is fundamentally practicing ethnic cleansing in the regions they extend their control to.


Turks believe that behind the facade of fighting Daesh beats the drums of conspiracy that is basically primed to tear up their country and destabilize their national security. Even amateur strategists would unanimously agree that a group of militants that are ideologically and ethnically driven to realize an autonomous entity won't relinquish the heavy weapons they gained and soil they seized.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart Fikri Işık pledging that the United States will retrieve the weapons it sent to the YPG immediately after Daesh is defeated. Meanwhile, the American Department of Defense will supply Turkey with detailed lists of the military materials and equipment dispatched to the YPG, underlining that the U.S. aims to guarantee transparency in the bilateral relationship.

Such an unexpected letter can be understood through the framework of three contexts: It's either Washington eventually maintained to estimate Turkey's rightful concerns or Washington was slapped in the face by undisputable images showing American weapons used inside Turkey by elements of the PKK terrorist group or the White House has realized that Turkey is preparing for a unilateral proactive step to protect its borders and safeguard its national security.

The possibility of the last two case-scenarios is high.

Recently, there were reports affirming the deployment of Turkish forces south of the town of Azaz, which is bordered by the YPG fighters, in the Afrin district on the outskirts of Aleppo, who continue to fight against the Turkey-backed Syrian moderate opposition. It's believed that recent reinforcements are part of preparations for new joint attacks on the YPG by Turkish forces and their Syrian opposition allies in the region.


Donald Trump (and his team) understand Turkey's concerns and know exactly how to satisfy their Turkish partners, but he seems to deliberately intend to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and disregard Turkey's serious apprehension. Instead, he works on a bid to superficially placate Ankara by offering such propositions or even offering Ankara a role in the post-Daesh era. However, his propositions are rather loose, offhand and improbable.

If Trump thinks that Turkish forces and the opposition are incapable of defeating Daesh and that only the YPG is the best option available, then Turkey is ready to offer him another option and that is the involvement of the Arab tribes in the northern swathes of Syria along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that Ankara has been supporting since the day it was established.

In his purported message, the U.S. secretary of defense said that 80 percent of the units to recapture Raqqa would consist of Arabs, adding that Arabs would have control over the city. However, which Arabs was Mattis alluding to?


Recently, the leaders of 50 Syrian Arab tribes met in Turkey and announced they would set up the Army of Al-Jazirah and Euphrates Tribes to cleanse the Euphrates and Al Jazeera areas of Daesh. These groups and factions are fully supported by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

However, the purported Arab tribes front is not cozy with the YPG militias; therefore, Washington will not consider them as a possible option. Whereas, other Arab tribes at Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor have already sent troops to fight with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that are dominated by the outlawed YPG.

Interestingly, Ahmad al-Jarba, the former head of the Syrian National Coalition, has announced that he will participate in the Raqqa operation with 3,000 of his men under the SDF banner. Al-Jarba enjoys strong ties with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Paradoxically, Saudi Arabia supports both fronts in a way that used to be vague and unexplainable. Recent dramatic events manifested the already expected divergence among the royal princes. Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince, recently overthrew his cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was known for his close relations with Qatar and Turkey.

The meticulous personal relationship between the two princes used to be blurred; prevalent arguments circulated on social media platforms, wondering who is more dominant, particularly in light of stark differences in the princes' public profiles. Things became much clearer after Bin Salman took over and grabbed ultimate power. Both Trump and Mohammed bin Salman are most likely reading from the same page.

Consciously ignore the fact that the illusion of pompous fake triumphs helps the new coalition achieve no more than an ephemeral end. Deliberately turning a blind eye to the fact that such policies will deepen divisions among regional "artificial immature rulers" and their ingenious nations will lead to more crises to breakout everywhere.

Nations that have been epically sacrificing for years have smelled the odor of dignity and are paying the heavy price of freedom, democracy and sovereignty. These nations cannot accept whitewashing murderers and tyrants under the pretext of stability and defeating a set of terrorists to bring about another set of even worse terrorists.

* Lecturer at Istanbul Aydın University

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