Tags: erdogan | turkey | syria | kurds | nato

Turkey's Erdogan Wants to Prevent Kurdish Self-Rule in Syria

Turkey's Erdogan Wants to Prevent Kurdish Self-Rule in Syria
A Turkish soldier checks the national flag on a mountain on the Syrian-Turkish border, north of Azaz on January 28, 2018. Turkey launched operation "Olive Branch" on January 20 against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in Afrin, supporting Syrian opposition fighters with ground troops and air strikes. (Maan Al-Shanan/AFP/Getty Images)

Tuesday, 30 January 2018 04:26 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Here is one of the under-covered stories about American foreign policy, and yet one of the potentially most explosive and dangerous to American national security interests. In a time when the alleged Russian collusion is nearly all that is reported, what may be the real Russian collusion is not, and probably for a reason. Put in sum, Turkey, under the Islamist, soft jihadist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a member state of NATO, openly threatens a military action against the U.S., of all countries, because of a difference of opinions about dealing with the Syrian crisis, and Russia is in the background, in more ways than one.

Vladimir Putin is sitting in the Kremlin, laughing all the way towards achieving another victory at the expense of the U.S., but he also works to attain this goal, not just laughing. His newest, most sophisticated anti-aircraft system, S-400, was shipped to Syria a few days ago, and might be used in the ensuing campaign in Northern Syria.

Erdogan is very clear about his policy — he wants to prevent any possibility of the creation of a Kurdish self-rule region in North and North-East Syria, as much as he opposes it in Iraq. Opposition to Kurdish nationalism may be one of the very few things in common between Islamist Turkey under Erdogan and what used to be Kemalist Turkey under Ataturk and his successors. Being nearly 20 percent of the population in Turkey, and mostly situated on Turkey’s borders with Iraq, Syria, and Iran, the Kurds constitute a legitimate security problem for Turkey, though the question of how to deal with it should not lead necessarily only to a violent response. Erdogan, however, explains his anti-Kurdish policy with a combination of strong Ottomanist-oriented and Turkish/Turanist Nationalism language, and in both cases, it is anti-American and anti-Western rhetoric, which is unprecedented when being used against an ally.

The Turkish complaints against the U.S., regarding an alleged, unproven American complicity with the failed anti-Erdogan coup d’etat from July 2016 are a smoke-screen. Erdogan has something else in mind, and it is to become the modern-day undeclared Khalif, the leader of the anti-West Islamic world, and sure enough, there is the U.S. to be the enemy. So, it is rhetoric which is the opening salvo, intended to build-up public opinion. Ibrahim Karagul, the journalist considered closest to Erdogan, editor of Yeni Safak [New Dawn] stated it clearly few days ago. America is enemy No. 1, and soon thousands of Turks will march to Incirlik Air Base, in which NATO and the U.S. are rumored to have tens of atomic bombs stored, and where the American air personnel was already under actual Turkish siege for some weeks after the failed coup. All this because of the U.S. support for the Kurdish YPG [the People’s Protection Units], something which Erdogan considers to be an American threat to Turkey. He may have a legitimate claim, but he intentionally uses bellicose language against the U.S., as the Islamist leader veers completely away from the traditional Kemalist pro-West orientation into the total opposite of it.

So, the Turkish army invaded Syria, attacking the Kurdish region, particularly in Afrin, threatening to move from West to East, creating a Turkish-controlled security zone which will detach a large portion of Syrian territory from the grasp of the Assad government.

The U.S. seems to be blowing hot and cold, calling upon Turkey to restrain its military activities on the one hand, while raising the possibility of agreeing to the creation of a Turkish security zone. The Turks could have been happy about that, but the PM Yildirim, the mouth-piece of Erdogan, already declared that American position unacceptable, as Turkey wants only its Syrian allies to participate in any security arrangements along the border with Syria. In simple words, the Turks expect the U.S. to remove itself from any involvement in Syria, and are ready to use force in order to achieve their goal. A NATO member thus violates all the rules of the game, and does it in the most aggressive and blatant possible way. And where is Russia in all that?

According to unconfirmed reports, the new Russian air defense system is to be located in areas of Northern Syria, where they could endanger the American freedom of aerial action.

President Trump has on record his reservations about the functioning of NATO. In view of Erdogan's rhetoric and actions, the local possible skirmish in Syria does bring to the fore the question of who are allies and enemies in the changing circumstances of 2018?

Dr. Josef Olmert is currently a professor of political science and Middle East Studies at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Olmert got his BA and MA magna cum laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. Dr. Olmert is a native of Israel, where he taught at the Tel Aviv University, and fulfilled senior positions in the service of Likud governments, including dealing with senior American statesmen and diplomats. Dr. Olmert is the author of three books and numerous articles in academic magazines and media outlets all over the world. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Erdogan is very clear about his policy — he wants to prevent any possibility of the creation of a Kurdish self-rule region in North and North-East Syria, as much as he opposes it in Iraq.
erdogan, turkey, syria, kurds, nato
Tuesday, 30 January 2018 04:26 PM
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