The Russian and Turkish leadership attended a summit in Ankara on September 16th, 2019, where the two leaders agreed to cooperate in Syria.
Besides such cooperation, Mr Erdogan and Mr Putin also committed to the future of the Turkstream pipeline. And at the MAKs air show, Mr Erdogan expressed his great interest in the potential purchase of SU-35 fighter jets, and perhaps the SU-57 when it becomes operational. Consider too, the additional element of NATO member Turkey’s S400 defensive missile purchase from Russia, despite warnings sanctions imposed by the United States.
In light of the above, a picture emerges where this important NATO member has either defacto withdrawn from NATO, or is threatening to do so. So what is any US leader to do? The answer is that the US must initiate new cooperation with Turkey, and respect Turkey’s security concerns as a NATO ally.
Turkey’s security concern relates to forty years of operation by the PKK inside the country. Even the United States – supposedly an ally of the Kurds – has listed the PKK as a terror group. While such labels are largely meaningless, that designation by the US of the PKK highlights the great element of hypocrisy present in US foreign relations, and its alliances.
Thus Trump has made his move, removing US troops from Manbij, to allow Turkey to subdue the PKK/YPG in northeastern Syria. Simply put, Trump is attempting to appease Turkey and bring Turkey back into the NATO fold, while Erdogan plays both sides. It’s called geo-politics. Simple. And unreported by the major media.
Also unreported by the major media is the US destabilization of Syria since 2011. US State provided the funding and backing for that insurgency. And US State provided the weaponry. Now Neocons and Neoliberals cry about the tragedy in Syria, a debacle that the US created beginning in 2011.
The United States has no right to be in Syria. The United States was, and still is in Syria illegally, according to international law. Obama relied on the unconstitutional AUMF to destabilize Syria in 2011, and then to invade and occupy Manbij and al Tanf, where the US still protects terrorists today. The AUMF is also illegal under international law, and even according to the US Constitution.
Likewise, Russia does not welcome the US withdrawal, since Turkey’s attempt to establish a 20 km ‘safe zone’ along the northeast border may potentially destabilize much of the northeast, and could place Russian forces in harm’s way. But the greater point is that the legitimate government of Syria has objected to all forms of international adventurism there since 2011, as it attempts to craft a new Constitution that will likely favour Kurdish measures for autonomy.
Just two days ago, ISIS attempted a break-out from al Qaim in Iraq, with the potential to strike Syrian oil fields east of Deir Ezzor, held by the SDF. (Those eastern oil fields have been plundered by the US for many years.) The ISIS attack near Deir Ezzor was foiled by an Iranian militia group present in the area, and turned back, with no participation by US forces from al Tanf. Reports have emerged indicating that Iran made overtures to the SDF to protect the oil fields near Deir Ezzor, however such cooperation is believed to be unlikely.
If Turkey were to attack the SDF to the north while the Syrian SNA attacks from the west, Kurdish forces would be hard pressed to defend the oil fields, thus depriving the PKK/YPG of much needed resources. Complicating this however, is Iran’s interest in pushing the US out of eastern Syria, where the US still has an air base in al Tanf.
In the end, it will be necessary for the Kurds to strike some sort of agreement with Turkey, Iran, and Syria, to provide the northeast region some form of autonomy and security, without the participation of the United States or Israel.
Speaking their own language and a proud and resourceful people, the Kurds may find that their best interests are served now by a political realignment, refraining from their association with Israel and the United States in an ever-changing geopolitical climate. Such a development will represent a major shift in Western Hegemony, highlighted by the fact that the former United States and Israel are incapable of granting the Kurds their own state.
To paraphrase (with great license) Mr Trump:
“The US was supposed to be in Syria for thirty days, that was in 2011 when the Clinton’s and Victoria Kagan-Nuland controlled US State. The United States stayed in Syria and got deeper and deeper into battle with no true goal in sight. The Kurds cooperated with the US, but were paid massive amounts of money and given billions in US military equipment to do so. They have been fighting vs Turkey decades. It is time for the United States to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal.”
Steve Brown is the author of “Iraq: the Road to War” (Sourcewatch) editor of “Bush Administration War Crimes in Iraq” (Sourcewatch) “Trump’s Limited Hangout” and “Federal Reserve: Out-sourcing the Monetary System to the Money Trust Oligarchs Since 1913”. Steve is an antiwar activist, a published scholar on the US monetary system, and has appeared as a guest contributor to The Duran, Fort Russ News, and Strategika51.