Erdogan Criticizes Western Allies More than Syrian Operation Ahead of Putin Meeting
Dorian Jones – Voice of America
ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ramping up stress on his Western allies, as the finish of a U.S.-brokered cease-fire approaches with Syrian Kurdish rebels.
Erdogan’s escalating rhetoric comes ahead of a pivotal meeting Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
With international stress continuing to develop on Ankara to finish its military operation against the rebels, Erdogan lashed out at criticism of the operation in northeastern Syria.
“The West sided with terrorists, and all of them attacked us. These consist of NATO nations, as properly as European Union nations. Weren’t you against terrorism? Considering the fact that when have you been acting with them?” Erdogan said in an address Monday.
Turkey earlier this month launched Operation Peace Spring against the Syrian Kurdish militia, YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization linked to an insurgency inside Turkey.
The YPG is the key element of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a critical U.S. ally in the war against Islamic State. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence brokered a 120-hour cease-fire final week to permit the YPG to withdraw.
With the withdrawal set to finish Tuesday evening neighborhood time, Erdogan is warning Washington of its responsibilities to enforce it.
“We count on our American allies to hold their promises this time,” he stated Sunday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu additional ratcheted up the stress on Washington.
“We have 35 hours left. If they do not withdraw, our operation will resume. This is also what we agreed with the Americans.”
SDF forces are reported to have withdrawn from Ras Al-Ayn in northeastern Syria. The town was the center of the heaviest fighting in the Turkish operation.
Ankara is demanding the withdrawal of all Kurdish militia from a 450-kilometer-extended strip to a 30-kilometer-deep strip from the Turkish frontier. The SDF maintains it only agreed with Washington to a partial withdrawal.
Adding to the confusion, analysts point out that the U.S.-Turkey deal does not specify the parameters of the withdrawal and size of a “protected zone” that Ankara seeks to generate.
The ambiguity is heightening suspicions that Washington struck distinct bargains with the SDF and Ankara in a bid to score a diplomatic victory, albeit a short-term a single.
“V.P. Pence’s Ankara stop by appears as if the point was to merely announce a ‘deal’ rather than to implement a single,” stated former senior Turkish diplomatic Aydin Selcen. “Irrespective of whether Pence and (Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo’s duo actions are directed to cater to White House’s internal political narrative or towards attaining tangible adjust is beyond me.”
U.S. President Donald Trump faces developing bipartisan criticism that he gave the “green light” to Erdogan to launch the Turkish leader’s military operation against the Syrian Kurds, an accusation Trump denies.
For Ankara, the Syria operation is not only aimed at addressing safety issues, but at developing a buffer zone massive sufficient to accommodate up to two million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Erdogan is anticipated to attempt to safe Putin’s help to generate the protected zone for the duration of talks Tuesday in the Black Sea city of Sochi.
“In this trip, Mr. Putin and I will tackle the (cease-fire) period and will hopefully take the vital methods,” Erdogan stated Monday.
“President Erdogan is flying to Sochi to summit with Putin to expand Turkey’s footprint in northeast Syria, but his possibilities of getting sympathy are slim,” stated analyst Atilla Yesilada of Worldwide Supply Partners.
Erdogan and Putin have struck up a excellent operating partnership on Syria, regardless of Turkey backing Syrian rebels against the Russian-backed Damascus government.
Analysts recommend there is a limit to that cooperation.
“Russia desires to cease this entrance of Turkish forces from going deeper into Syria,” stated international relations professor Huseyin Bagci of Ankara’s Middle East Technical University. “This is not in the interests of Russia or (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad, so the message is not to go any additional.”
Putin is performing a cautious diplomatic balancing act. The Russian president provided help for the safety dimension of Turkey’s military operation, but so far has not backed Ankara’s plans for the mass return of refugees.
Analysts recommend Putin could provide Erdogan a far more restricted zone in Syria, extending only 5 kilometers into Syrian territory. Syrian government forces have currently taken manage of the vital towns of Kobani and Manbij as component of a deal with the SDF in response to Turkey’s operation.
“Russia paving the way for Assad’s side to conquer Manbij and far more importantly, Kobani, is a large blow to Erdogan’s plans to resettle 1- to two million refugees,” Yesilada stated.
Putin, mindful of Erdogan’s refusal to negotiate with the Syrian Kurdish forces, is anticipated to press for Ankara to negotiate with Damascus more than safety and refugee returns. Ankara reduce ties with Damascus at the start off of Syria’s civil war, with Erdogan describing Assad as a “butcher.”
“The query is how is Erdogan going to have a policy of face-saving,” stated Bagci. “He is as well a lot engaged in not meeting Assad personally. But he gave the indication far more and far more he is receptive to government talks. The Turkish defense and intelligence solutions, they speak to the regime. Only the two presidents do not exchange words with a single yet another.”