Verda Özer in Hürriyet reports that Erdoğan offered Obama the services of the Turkish military in Syria against ISIS, in return for which he asked the U.S. to stop supporting the Kurdish PYD. According to what Turkish sources have told me, Ankara made the following suggestion to Washington during the visit of Erdoğan: “Come, give up PYD. In its place, we can – together with the Arab and Turcoman groups that we support – fight a land war against ISIS.” Turkey also asked for U.S. air cover to enable the Turkish army to intervene in Syria. To this, the U.S. replied “I will not give up on PYD.” Washington also expressed the reservation that if “the Turkish army were to intervene, Russia might hit it.” In fact, the U.S. is wary of Turkey becoming entrenched and powerful in Iraq and Syria. According to what my sources relate, Washington urged Ankara to “return to the solution process,” to which Erdoğan replied “I have not broken off the solution process, the process is in the refrigerator.” And he reminded that Turkey’s, and thus his own, focus right now is the fight against PKK. According to what the sources relate, the Turkish side made a connection between the solution process and the PYD. It emphasized that as long as the armed support of the U.S. for PYD continues, it will not be possible to restart the solution process.
Ahmet Altan on the news site Haberdar writes that the army and AKP are working in tandem. Maybe the army is seeking to obtain what it has been trying to do for years by mobilizing the AKP – with its vast majority – behind it. This could be a dream come true for the army, that it now thanks to AKP and its majority can crush the Kurds, the leftists and the religious conservatives outside of AKP so handily. And it could be that AKP is thinking that it makes sense to cooperate with the army in order to force the Kurds to accept a presidential system, to silence its opponents, and wipe out the other religious conservatives from the field. But beware, while cooperating, you run the risk of turning into the force with which you cooperate. While the AKP is turning into an image of the old state, the military is becoming more like the AKP. The daily Cumhuriyet has recently exposed how the army is collaborating with ISIS at the Syrian border. The conservative base of the AKP will not long take the “militarization” of the party; in fact, that is one of the reasons behind the internal fissures that are slowly becoming visible. Meanwhile, the attempt to turn the army into an AKP army could have truly disastrous consequences in terms of the internal cohesion of the military. The Turkish army could split like the Lebanese army.
Cengiz Çandar in Radikal writes that Turkey is seeking a closer relation with the EU because the historical rivalry between it and Russia has been revived, with Turkey being encircled on three fronts by a Russia that has annexed Crimea to the north, has strengthened its military ties with Armenia to the east and has become entrenched to the south by its support to the Kurds in the vicinity of Aleppo and has denied Turkey access to the north Syrian air space. In this context, Ankara (which does not mean exclusively the AKP government) views the PKK as an “asset” that Russia is using or will use against Turkey. The Turkey-EU “refugee bargaining” becomes intelligible by looking at this big picture. Turkey, which is “besieged” by Russia and feels to under “strategic threat” is reorienting in the direction that remains open for it, that is to the West, across the Aegean Sea. At the same time, Ankara is exploring a “common ground” with Iran in countering the Kurds, just like Turkey did back in 1937, when the Saadabad treaty was concluded with Persia. This “political maneuver” by Turkey is also an attempt to break the Russia-Iran entente over Syria.
Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak writes that the geopolitical winds are behind PKK-PYD and against Turkey. Turkey does not have any card up its sleeve that it can deploy to stop the Kurdish region in Syria that it sees as an existential threat. As long as this balance persists across the border, it is not reasonable to expect that Kandil (the headquarters of PKK in northern Iraq) is going to abandon its attempts to establish areas of sovereignty, its strategy of creating cantons, by means of urban warfare and the politics of ditches. The statements of the authorities promising that “soon the cleaning will be finished, and public order will be established,” appear naïve considering past events and the present balances of power. This is so even though a significant part of the population in the region does not approve of the actions of the PKK. This does not mean that they have edged closer to the approach of the state and its position. Isn’t it time that Turkey revises its reading of the region, its view of the Kurdish movements, the Kurdish question and its roadmap for the future?
Murat Yetkin in Radikal writes that there is no sign that chief of the general staff General Hulusi Akar is going to abandon the military’s traditional line, “Peace in the Homeland, Peace in the world.” Akar is a commander who appreciates very well the importance of relations with NATO, and who knows well what kind of initiative would deprive Turkey of the support of NATO. The Turkish General staff knows that it would not be possible to venture into Syrian airspace without being attacked by Russia; would it then be as amateurish as to plan for an offensive that would have to be carried out without air support? Will the army enter Syria? There’s absolute no sign of this, neither politically nor militarily; the authoritative sources with whom we have spoken emphasize that what is being undertaken is not an “attack” operation, but a “defensive” operation against the mounting threat at the borders. The “Fırtına” artillery shells give General Akar and his team of Commanders assymetrical superiority against the initiatives on the other side of the border. In this way, Turkey wants to make clear that an agreement between the U.S. and Russia that does not take its security preoccupations into consideration is unlikely to be effective. Turkey may not be able to impose what it wants, but neither will the U.S. and Russia get to impose their exclusive will.
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.