Turkey illuminates the darkness of northern Syria

Turkey illuminates the darkness of northern Syria
"Turkey after the coup is not like before," was repeatedly said by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a number of other Turkish officials. 

This statement is a clear message to the whole world that the change would not only be internal, but rather Turkey’s foreign policy will be different from the pre-coup era. The first to benefit economically and diplomatically from that change are the Russians, the biggest losers are the Americans.

The Turks found undoubted evidence that the group of Fethullah Gülen, who has been living for more than 15 years in the United States, is behind the coup attempt. It is naive to say that the US administration had no prior knowledge of this coup attempt, if not supportive, and even part of it, thus setting itself against the Turkish people and the Turkish administration.

The change in Turkey’s foreign policy is reflected directly on the Syrian file in all its aspects, so that the pro-regime countries found a good opportunity to open a new chapter with the Turkish leadership. In this context was the meeting between Erdogan and Putin, as I pointed out in my previous article entitled "Syria pays the price of vested interests", about what was discussed between the two. However, the meeting, that took place the next day of the visit of Erdogan to Moscow, between the Foreign Ministers, as well as Chiefs of Staff and Security of both countries, was highly important because they put the details of what happened next in northern Syria.

There were in the past two weeks movements of all parties along the Syrian-Turkish border, specifically violent clashes in Hasakah city and its suburbs, between the regime on the one hand and the Kurdish Asayish forces, backed by troops of PYD and YPG on the other, where Assad’s forces targeted the city with artillery and air force. But the US administration warned Assad regime to not use the air force, threatening to shoot down the aircraft. USA Today pointed out that, during that engagement, a US aircraft approached a distance of 2,000 feet from the Su-24 regime aircraft, forcing it not to significantly approach the city. With this act, the US administration shows a status of schizophrenia in dealing with the Syrian crisis. During the five years of the Syrian Revolution, it abstains from imposing any kind of air ban because of the “complexities of this crisis.” However, in a few hours it imposed a no-fly zone in the sky of Hasakah.

What happened in Hasakah has not been correctly connected with Turkish-Russian-Iranian consent. Many politicians and journalists have interpreted it as a step from Assad with the Russians and Iranians backing him, to come closer with the Turks. In reality, it was an aforehand Kurdish response to this consent. The Russian response to send three Generals to Qamishli city asking for a cease-fire and accepting that more than 80% of the city be under Kurdish control, clarifies the situation.

The coincidence of the visit of the US Vice President Joe Biden to Ankara with the start of the operation "Euphrates shield" in northern Syria, is striking. This was a clear message to the American ally that Turkey put its own interests above any consideration. The second message was the reception of the Vice President of the biggest power in the world by the deputy governor of Ankara, a Turkish heavy blow to the guest. Biden, who met with Erdogan for only one hour, returned with empty hands to the White House. Turkey after the coup is not as before.

"The creation of a safe zone in northern Syria is not on the table now". With these words, the letter sent to the Turkish administration by the White House showed indirectly the dissatisfaction of the American administration for what is going on in the west of the Euphrates, despite what was announced by Biden during his visit to Ankara about supporting Turkey in its war on terror in northern Syria. The statement about safe zone was made during the 12-hour Geneva meeting between US Secretary of State with his Russian counterpart in the presence of UN Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura, which ended without achieving any significant progress on both sides with regard to the Syrian file.

While Biden was visiting Ankara, trying to reduce the tension with the Turks, John Kerry was in Riyadh meeting the King, trying to reduce the tension with the Kingdom on Syria and Yemen crises. The current American strategy in the Middle East is not to resolve the crises but to gain more time.

While the Turkish military moves in northern Syria unfold within the Russian and Iranian tacit approval, they are against the wishes of the US administration. From my point of view, such a plan would be in favor of the Syrian Revolution. The Syrian opposition will gain more territories making its negotiating position stronger, cutting off the road to the realization of the dream of the so-called "Rojava" Kurdish region, and correcting the American theory that the Kurdish militias are the only ones that fight ISIS terrorism (two weeks ago Michael Ratney, the US Special Envoy for Syria, secretly met representatives of Syrian opposition and said to them that the Kurdish militias are the only coalition partners in the war against ISIS). 

In the days to come, I believe, the Syrian north will be hotter and the White House will be more worried!

Eva J. Koulouriotis is Greek political analyst specialized in Middle East. She has studied Economics, Public Policy and Business Administration. She is a member of the Greek political party of “Nea Demokratia”, head of the Women’s entrepreneurship section.

Twitter: @evacool_f, Facebook: @evakoulouriotis

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