Ankara’s plan to protect Syrian Kurds

The delegation led by Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton arrived in Ankara two days ago and negotiations were held yesterday, but we also witnessed a process resembling a “psychological arm wrestling match” before that.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a disturbing statement saying, “We will ensure Turks don’t slaughter Kurds.” Ankara immediately responded. Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hami Aksoy stated, “Secretary Pompeo’s statement identifying the PYD/YPG terrorist organization with Kurds, if it is not deliberate, indicates a concerning lack of information.”

Similarly John Bolton’s statements without differentiating the YPG and using the word “Kurds” resulted in the cancellation of the meeting President Erdoğan was planning to have with him. Bolton’s statement was as follows: “The U.S. withdrawal from Syria won't happen without a deal to protect the Kurds.”

It is clear as day that both Pompeo and Bolton refer to the YPG terror group when they say Kurds.

This is the source of the discomfort.

Otherwise, if everyone had understood the same thing when they say “Kurds” there wouldn’t be any problem.

What were the results of the negotiations with the US delegation?

Thus, the negotiations were held yesterday in an environment in which both sides clearly stated their positions.

Now let’s come to the question that emerged from these negotiations. The statements Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın made gives a good idea about the framework of the negotiations.

Let’s relate some important statements:

- We discussed how the withdrawal process will proceed.

- The withdrawal process was declared as 60 to 100 days, now they say 120 days.

- They stated that they are working on recollecting the arms given to the YPG terror group.

- We are concentrating on how the U.S.s’ withdrawal process will work.

If we consider all these statements, we can conclude that in this meeting, which lasted over 2 hours, both sides have decided to work in coordination as the U.S. withdraws from Syria. From Kalın’s statements, we understand that this is the first meeting for the purpose of “coordination,” and that intelligence and military authorities will continue to hold meetings in the days to come.

Turkey’s plan after the U.S. withdrawal from Syria

Right before the U.S delegation arrived in Turkey, President Erdoğan penned an article, the timing and subject of which was striking, published in the New York Times.

In his article, Erdoğan mentioned his “Syria Plan and revealed many details for the first time.

When we read the entire article, it seems to be giving comforting messages to Washington about their questions and concerns about “what Turkey might do after the U.S. withdrawal.” A concrete roadmap was also mentioned.

Let’s quote some parts of this article which give signs to what kind of vision Turkey will have after the U.S withdraw from Syria:

“Following the United States’ withdrawal from Syria, we will complete an intensive vetting process to reunite child soldiers with their families…”

“Ensuring adequate political representation for all communities is another priority. Under Turkey’s watch, the Syrian territories that are under the control of the Y.P.G. or the so-called Islamic State will be governed by popularly elected councils. Individuals with no links to terrorist groups will be eligible to represent their communities in local governments.

“Local councils in predominantly Kurdish parts of northern Syria will largely consist of the Kurdish community’s representatives whilst ensuring that all other groups enjoy fair political representation.

“Turkish officials with relevant experience will advise them on municipal affairs, education, health care, and emergency services.

When we take a look at this plan Erdoğan has explained, we can easily assume that those who want to sincerely approach Syria’s future from a peaceful, humane and democratic perspective will be easily convinced.

Was there any other actor other than Turkey who gave the people of Syria a “chance to breathe” anyway?

If the Americans are sincerely concerned about the future of the Kurds rather than the YPG, they may actually listen to Erdoğan’s plan.

Moreover, when we read the entire article, we see that Erdoğan was not trying to suggest a plan, but that he was acting to declare a decision which had been already made.

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