Friday, June 15, 2018

How U.S. and Turkey Determine the Fate of Kurds, by Sophie Mangal

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during the meeting with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo agreed on Syria’s city of Manbij road map, providing for the withdrawal of the Kurdish militia linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK on June 4. 

According to the joint plan of Washington and Ankara, these formations will be replaced by the Turkmen and Arab units that will establish control over the city and the surrounding areas.

However, the meeting between the U.S. and Turkish foreign ministers must be viewed in the general context of the current Middle Eastern events.
The statement made by Cavusoglu at the joint press conference as a result of the bilateral negotiations demonstrates consensus in principle of Ankara and Washington on the Syrian issue. Let’s highlight two most important among them.

First, according to Cavusoglu, the Manbij road map will be used in other areas of Syria. That is, Ankara does not intend to abandon the plans on creating a buffer zone along the entire length of the Turkish-Syrian border in order to make it impossible the attacks of the Syrian Kurds on the territory of Turkey. This area is planned to be populated by the Turkmen and Arabs. The maintenance of the Kurdish population not linked to PKK is also not ruled out.
Thus, the Kurdish militias will have to move away from the border into the territory of Syria, that undoubtedly lead to the transition of the traditional housing areas of the Kurds to the pro-Turkish forces and squeezing out of them the Kurdish population.

It’s obvious that the implementation of these plans is next to impossible without the U.S. support that took a gamble on the Kurds in fighting ISIS.
Replacing the head of the State Department Donald Trump has embarked on implementing a new Middle Eastern course, which includes the lack of support for the Kurds.

Until recently, the group predominately composed of the Syrian Democratic Forces played a key role in fighting ISIS in the East of Syria. As terrorists are defeated, the need for the Kurds disappears, which allows the U.S. to sacrifice them in the bargaining with Turkey for the division of power in Syria.
In this context, the Kurds have no rights on these territories of Syria, which have turned into the Protectorate of Turkey and U.S. It's naive to think that Turkey will allow its old enemy to maintain control over the oil field in Eastern Syria.

At the same time, the Kurds are planned to be replaced by the so-called New Syrian Army, whose fighters are actively being trained by the U.S. military instructors in al-Tanf. If necessary this formation will cooperate with the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army.

The second statement of the Turkish Foreign Minister on the possible purchase of the American air defense systems answers the question concerning the reasons for such a radical position of Washington on the Kurdish issue.

For the past several months the primary aim for the U.S. is to prevent deepening cooperation between Turkey and Russia in the Middle East. A contract for the purchase of Russia's S-400 air defense missile systems by Turkey has become such an indicator. The failure of this deal is a point of pride for the United States and Donald Trump.

The Turkish leader is known for his ability to bargain. This time he managed to win on Washington's aspiration to reduce Moscow's influence in the Middle East and force Trump to sell Patriot anti-missile complexes to Turkey, which Ankara had been trying to achieve for many years.

The Kurds are the losing party in this bargain, which actually falls under attack of the Turkmen. Currently, the main beneficiary is Turkey. As, if the U.S. does not keep its promises and continue supporting the Kurds, the contract for the purchase of Russia’s S-400 will remain in force. If the Kurds leave Manbij and other areas specified by Ankara, Turkey will receive American anti-missile systems, sacrificing relations with Moscow.