Let me start by quoting an article recently published, on March 7 to be exact, in one of the most-read newspapers in the U.S., the New York Times, written by Anne Bernard:
“For six weeks, Turkey has mounted a campaign to wrest control of Afrin from the Y.P.G., an offensive that has displaced some 10,000 people and killed several hundred civilians and 41 Turkish soldiers. Mr. Erdogan said this week that 159 Syrians belonging to the Free Syrian Army, which is fighting alongside Turkish armed forces, had also died.”
Do you see the statements used in a newspaper which has a large international circulation like the New York Times?
As numbers are given for the loss of the Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army, the name of PKK/YPG is not even mentioned.
What sort of results can we conclude from the language/logic of this news?
1- Turkey is carrying out this operation to kill as many civilians as possible!
2- There is no such a thing as the YPG in Afrin. Those who are killed as PKK/YPG terrorists are in fact civilians!
If there are those who think I am wrong, that I exaggerate or falsify, they can read the quotation above one more time.
Similar distortions have been on the rise since Operation Olive Branch started on Jan. 20., especially in the U.S. press.
Apart from a few honest approaches, two fundamental facts are being diligently hidden in those publications:
A-The organic relationship between PKK and YPG which has become impossible to hide.
B-The fact that YPG has never represented the common will of Syrian Kurds.
In cases where option “A” applies, the statement “the YPG, which Turkey sees as an extension of the PKK” is used at best.
Something even worse is being carried out by implying that “Turkey, which is already untrustworthy, sees it this way, but you should keep on being suspicious!”
The fundamental fact in option “B” is being covered even more diligently.
Since Operation Olive Branch started, there has not been an approach which focuses on or even at least discusses the idea that Turkey is not conducting an operation against Syrian Kurds but against the YPG, which has caused those Syrian Kurds great suffering.
On the contrary, as a common language, the statement: “Turkey is conducting an operation against Syrian Kurds” is the main argument of almost all the news that we read and watch.
Have we reached an agreement with the U.S.?
It is obvious that this approach of the U.S. media has a synchronized perspective with the U.S. administration.
U.S. General Jarrard’s statement, during his visit to YPG positions in Manbij, which had strategic timing as it was before U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson came to Ankara on Feb. 23, saying “There are a lot of people that do equate them with the P.K.K., but I have not seen any indication of that in my dealings with them throughout our relationship,” can be interpreted as only one degree below those statements.
Last week, the first meeting of the trilateral commission that was established during Tillerson’s visit to Ankara was held in Washington.
Diplomatic sources announced that the talks, which lasted for two days, ended “positively.”
However, the statement of Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, which was given as breaking news, showed that there were a lot of issues to discuss about how our media portrays the news as well.
The statement was presented on news channels as, “Çavuşoğlu: We have come to a common understanding with the U.S. on Manbij and the east of Euphrates.”
An official from the Foreign Affairs Ministry whom I called to ask how we should interpret this reminded me that the minister used the word “stabilization” in his statement. Thus, the statement takes on a different meaning.
Here is the entire statement of Çavuşoğlu:
“We have reached a common understanding with the U.S. on the stabilization of Manbij and the east of Euphrates. I will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 19.”
The Foreign Ministry supports this statement as follows:
“The Syrian policy of the U.S. goes beyond being only about the PYD. Turkey making its presence felt allowed us to progress.”
Yes, this progress deserves to be underlined.
However, it is not clear yet if the U.S. has a new intention regarding Syria and PKK/PYD.
It is too early to say that Washington has come to a point where it makes a choice between its allies with a new maneuver and it has started to make a strategic preference rather than adopting a tactical/delaying attitude.
But the fact that Ankara preserves its determination and shows its presence both in the field and at the table will continue to put pressure on the U.S. administration. Even this is a serious progress.