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.
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.
By Gallia Lindenstrauss
February 4th, 2016, The Turkey Analyst
In view of the challenges Turkey is facing in the Middle East, Ankara is attempting to further solidify its relations with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and specifically with KRG’s president, Massoud Barzani. While this policy may assist Turkey in increasing its influence over the future of Iraq and assist it in diversifying its energy suppliers, it is less likely to help Turkey in its internal struggle with its Kurdish minority, or in countering the Kurdish aspirations in Syria. Yet, as the only still relevant remnant of Turkey’s ‘zero Problems’ policy, Turkey-KRG relations do have the potential to assist Ankara in maintaining and solidifying its influence over the future of Iraq.
Murat Belge in Taraf writes that Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane is going to have repercussions for its Western allies. The question now is, did we warn our allies before taking an action that could have forced all the members of the NATO to go to war against Russia? For instance, were the people of Norway, or Denmark, Italy or Canada aware that they could have found themselves at war with Russia before the month of November was over? How probable is it that a Dane would approve of his state declaring war against Russia just because a Russian war plane flew over Turkish air space for seventeen seconds? Isn’t he or she going to think that one ought to reconsider being allied to a country that can behave so irresponsibly?
Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak notes that Russia is giving air support to the Kurdish PYD forces in Syria, helping them to cross to the west of the Euphrates. Do you think that the U.S. would mind if the Kurds were to succeed in their advance? It would not at all be surprising if the U.S. prefers that the Kurds – rather than the Sunni opposition that the Russians are hitting – acquire control over the area. In that case, Turkey will have only one counter-measure that it has often said it will deploy: To hit the PYD. You can imagine what the consequences of such an extreme and bad scenario – a probable fight between PYD and the Turkish army – would have on relations with the U.S., with Russia and how societal tensions in the southeast would escalate. Since Russia joined the game, everything has been turned upside down. This has also been a strike against Turkey that supports the Sunni opposition and it has turned into an endeavor to push out Turkey from the area.
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.