The agreement reached with the U.S. concerning the east of the Euphrates seems like it will be Turkey’s primary agenda following the Muslim Eid holiday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement, “August is the month of victory. God willing, we are going to add another [victory to it],” strengthened the expectation of an operation in the east of the Euphrates or the East Mediterranean by Aug. 30, also known as Victory Day.
As I tried to explain in last week’s column titled, “August is a month of expedition, a month of victory,” Turkey’s history is filled with victories in the month of August.
President Erdoğan reminding us of the Battle of Manzikert, the Great Offensive, and the Battle of Marj Dabiq, as well as the Cyprus Peace Operation, brought to mind the question, “Are there preparations for a military maneuver aimed at Cyprus?” Because, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the force commanders’ visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) happened almost simultaneously. When taking into account recent attempts by the TRNC's to open the off-limit Maraş area in Cyprus for resettling, it would not be out of the realm of possibility to say that Turkey might take more permanent measures on the island.
Turkey is going to take a step together with the U.S. concerning a "safe zone" in the north of Syria, the east of the Euphrates River. There are many ambiguous aspects of the approach developed in cooperation with the U.S.
Because our interlocutor is a country that does not keep its promises, that conflicts with its own principles, and places its strategic partner on the target board for its own strategic goal. Operation Provide Comfort is the best example of this. Failing to fulfill the requirements of the Manbij agreement is the best example of this. What is more, harboring the ringleader of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and its members in their country is the biggest example of this.
The U.S., finding itself alongside the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists, despite its agreement with Turkey, is the final indicator of this.
Hence, our concerns with respect to how the agreement reached will be enforced and implemented are extremely high.
The statement by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is like the proof that the lack of trust in the U.S. is at the highest level.
Çavuşoğlu said, "What we are saying with respect to the east of the Euphrates is that we are either going to clear the area together or Turkey is going to enter the area and purge those terrorists from here itself. We are going to purge the YPG, the PKK from the east of the Euphrates just as we did in Afrin, just as we cleared Jarablus of Daesh. It will be cleared regardless of the cost. There is no change whatsoever in our determination here. We will no longer allow the U.S. to stall us like in Manbij. We are saying this openly, we told them too."
You might say, "What could Turkey have done? Should it have disregarded the U.S. and entered the east of the Euphrates? This was not possible despite the U.S."
I would understand. We are aware of the reality - both of Turkey's power and limits.
Those who have been following this column will remember: we have said many times here that "President Erdoğan is one of the rare politicians that know his limits."
Therefore, during the last U.S. visit to "make a deal," the Turkey side "imposed its theories and had them partially accepted. It is now following up on the agreement that was reached."
Those who know, know Turkey's capacity to fight terrorism. Our high capacity is known to almost all our interlocutors.
In addition to this, we have our limits too. "War" is at the top of the most important elements shaking not only Turkey but global economies as well. Meanwhile, Turkey has been fighting in a few fronts for years now. We are a country that has been fighting against terrorism for four decades. We have been fighting against all the negative aspects of the Syrian crisis for almost a decade. We are covertly fighting against the U.S. and its coalition partners. We are under "friendly fire."
All this fighting has economic and social costs. The price we are paying is quite high.
Therefore, we are aware of the price of launching an operation east of the Euphrates River despite the Americans.
If necessary, we are ready to pay that price too. However, in order to show the "rule of alliance," we have to hide our distress and wait patiently for the time being.
It will soon be revealed whether the U.S. will keep its promise or not.
The U.S., which wants to gain status for the PYD/YPG-PKK east of the Euphrates, wants to somehow get Turkey to deal with this structure.
It previously did this in Iraq, and now it is doing it in Syria. If it succeeds, there is no doubt that it will try the same in Iran and Turkey within the next two decades.
Because, this is part of the U.S.'s long-term regional strategy. Iraq is no longer the old Iraq. Syria will no longer be the old Syria. They are making the same plans for Turkey and Iran.
Thus, we are trying to repel it within the range of our power, while being aware of our limits.
What will be the result of this fight between the locals of the region and the outsider "barbarians"? We shall see.
We are watching.