Alwaght- Defying the US opposition to an imminent Turkish military operation in the eastern Euphrates that is under the control of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized the need for his country to launch a military operation inside Syria. The field evidence indicates that Turkey over the past few days even accelerated the transfer of the military facility and forces to its southern borders with Syria. Erdogan’s argument is that if his country at present declines to attack the Syrian Kurdish militias who are affiliated with Ankara’s arch-enemy Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and are blacklisted by Turkey as terrorist groups, in the future Ankara has to pay a heavy price struggling to confront a potential Kurdish state which is legitimate and recognized by the international order.
The Turkish president never wants to see a sequel to the Iraqi experience of Kurdish autonomous region in the north. He may now go beyond and think that if Turkey prevented an autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq’s north in 1991, such a government would have never formed. Ankara leaders have a belief that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is a Syrian branch of the PKK and poses a threat to the Turkish national security prospectively.
Despite this vision, the US Secretary of State Mark Esper has recently asserted that any form of Turkish military incursion in Syria against the Kurds is “unacceptable” and that the US “will prevent it.” The comments by the Pentagon chief can have two meanings: First, the US will deploy its forces to the border areas for an encounter with the Turkish forces. Second, Washington will use economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure instruments to prevent an anti-Kurdish campaign. There is another probability beside these two: Trump will choose Turkey over the Syrian Kurds.
The fact is that over the past three years of his presidency, Trump showed that his mercantilist policy makes him abandon his closest allies refuse to pay costs for them in sensitive times. This Trump’s logic considered, Trump is very unlikely to close eyes to the huge profits of the relations with Turkey and lay them aside in favor such small actors as the Syrian Kurds. Once this scenario is materialized on the ground, the Kurds will be the main losers for their trust in the US.
Kurds caught in Washington’s treachery
Since 2014, the Kurds of Syria have played as infantry to the Americans in the Syrian crisis equations. Putting all of his eggs in the American basket, the PYD officially tied its political future to the American policy. The dangerous aspect of the issue for the PYD leaders is that Trump apparently is not even ready to spend for such a power as Turkey that for decades has been an ally to the US, let alone the Kurds of Syria who have a role and profit very smaller than Ankara’s for Washington.
The latest comments by the Turkish president ware readable within this analysis. Erdogan said on Tuesday that he expects Washington to take steps worthy of a true ally in the Syrian case. The remarks imply that the Americans should not forget their ally in the NATO and at the end of the road Trump should stand by Turkey, not by the Kurds of Syria. Odds are that the Turkish leaders’ comments at present come with an American green light with regard to the fact that he has always realized his threats against the Kurds. If this theory comes true, the Kurds will be immersed in a self-made swamp of trust in the US.
Kurds burn opportunity of closeness to Damascus
The most strategic mistake of the Syrian Kurds in the equations of crisis is the constant servility to Washington and a failure to reach out to Damascus. In early 2018, amid the silence of the US and other Western countries, Turkey and the allied militias seized Afrin canton. Shortly after, Trump said he wants to withdraw his forces from Syria. Despite that all, the Kurds never understood that the Americans will ultimately leave them alone.
In the middle of this, the opportunity was ripe for them to, even before the Turkish attack on Afrin, not only avoid falling victim to the developments through closeness to the Syrian government but also stand as a new partner to Damascus to unite mobilize their forces and protect the predominantly Kurdish regions against the Turkish incursions. At present, they have a chance to invite the central government to take control of the borders to thwart the possible campaign of the Turkish military in the eastern Euphrates to seize new areas of Syria under the guise of the fight against terrorism. Ankara hopes for the constancy of division between the Kurds and the central government so that it can realize its ambitions in Syria before the crisis end and the political process starts.
Syrian field equations go complicated
If Erdogan accomplishes his threats against the Kurds, the Syrian filed equations will be further compounded. Such actors as Russia and Iran are not happy to see a greater role for Turkey in the crisis-hit country. They read this Turkish behavior contradictory to all of Ankara’s stated commitments at the Astana meetings. Thus, the attack on the eastern Euphrates can stir a new round of chaos and crisis in the already-complicated Syrian conflict.