Turkey, since the summer of 2016, has been successful in ruling out the security threats which mostly came from Syria.
This, of course, is for the west of the Euphrates.
Since the beginning of 2018, settling the Afrin and Idlib issues at the table provided an important advantage for Turkey.
On the other hand, the progress made with the Russians about Syria, unfortunately has not been made with the U.S.
The promise that “weapons will not be given to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) anymore,” which Trump gave to President Erdoğan, and after that his announcement that he is withdrawing his soldiers from Syria, created a cautious but optimist atmosphere in Ankara. But none of this happened.
Trump ignored two issues, and the project to withdraw the U.S. army from Syria appears to be off the table, while weapons have recently started to be distributed to the YPG once again.
So, we are back where we started.
Who are these weapons going to be used against?
President Erdoğan gave numbers the other day during the parliament assembly, probably based on information coming from the intelligence agency:
“The United States has sent nearly 19,000 trucks (loaded with arms) to the YPG and PYD in northern Syria. There are terrorists there; these are the branches of PKK. Besides this, there are also 22 American bases. These bases are being supplied too. Also, 3,000 air freighters were sent here. Against whom will they use these weapons? Who is on the other side of the border? It is Turkey! Aren’t we your ally, what kind of an alliance is this?
All these new developments show that the efforts of Israel and Saudi Arabia to keep the U.S. in the east of Euphrates, this time using the threat from Iran as an excuse is being successful. Again, these new circumstances indicate that Turkey should stay alarmed against the threats coming from the east of the Euphrates, something everyone knows today.
A small start
The U.S. shows commitment only in the Manbij issue to work with Turkey. Of course, one can tell that they are not so willing to do this by looking the slow steps they are taking.
At the beginning of June, the agreement was planned to be implemented according to a specific timetable, but since the U.S. had been dragging its feet, that timetable didn’t work.
The only concrete progress made at the end of four months was the recent visit of a group of U.S. soldiers to Ankara for the training of the planned joint patrol activities.
We can consider Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu statements that “the time for completely evacuating the YPG from Manbij and leaving it to the local people both in terms of administration and in terms of security forces has already passed” was also made in the light of the recent developments.
Is this a tactic to buy time?
We need to ask this updated question in the light of these recent developments: “Has the U.S. completely given up on the project it has been carrying out in the east of the Euphrates to transfer the PKK/YPG to west of the Euphrates, or has it not?” The unfolding of events in the context of Manbij will also test this question.
We remember that before, the negotiations on Syria with the U.S. was planned to be implemented through “train and equip” programs, but it failed because the Obama administration was trying to buy time by dragging their feet.
Also, today, there are many reasons to approach the joint patrol plan specific to Manbij with suspicion.
Manbij is important for the following reason: The YPG’s withdrawal means partially giving up on the idea of the PKK-YPG project controlling Turkey’s Syria border.
Could the U.S. really get over it?
Are the U.S. soldiers on the ground who are very close to PKK/YPG terrorists really going to accept the agreement reached by the U.S. and Turkish governments?
Or, has the Manbij issue also been delayed by the U.S., and do they still plan to go back to their original project?
We can say this much at the moment: the start of the training for the joint patrol planned in Manbij, with the condition to closely watch what is going to happen next, can be seen as a small start.