I remember the discussions in Turkish media prior to Operation Euphrates Shield regarding Turkey's entering Syria: How could we enter Syria despite the U.S. and Russia? They would tear us apart in three days. Are we going to enter war with Iran and Russia? Are we not aware of the realities at all?
It's not only those opposing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that were saying and writing all this, but so many “experts.” Let alone the one year prior to the operation, there were many who said and wrote these on the even at the start of the operation and on the day.
Operation Euphrates Shield started. World War III did not break out. The U.S., Russia, Syria, Iran, et cetera made two-to-three statements in criticism of the operation, but it did not go beyond that. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was the most disturbed. Turkey was fed up with waiting for its “Let's do the fight against Daesh together” allies for a long time. In accordance with diplomatic practices, it notified certain countries; it did not get approval or any support. If it was a little later, Turkey's border would have turned completely in to a terror border. Also, by starting the operation as the Barack Obama administration's Vice President Joe Biden's plane was landing in Turkey, Ankara did not forget to give the necessary message.
In terms of dimension, this was not an operation as big as the Cyprus Peace Operation. And yet, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), which was deeply wounded internally, accomplished an excellent job immediately after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. It was said, “You can't get beyond Jarablus,” but they did.
It was said, “Hell would break loose in Dabiq,” but it took two days to take liberate the town from Daesh.
It was said, “The Turkish military can't get out of al-Bab,” but taking care not to harm civilians, the TSK cleaned the area meticulously, almost street by street, house by house. It conducted an operation that would astonish those saying, “I am fighting Daesh.”
It not only did all these, it started building a safe zone where refugees were able to return from Turkey, where normal life started and as a matter of fact, where new asylum seekers moved from war zones.
As the next target was being discussed as the al-Bab operation approached the end and as the Democratic Union Party's (PDYD) removal from Manbij being the priority was being discussed, while Donald Trump overtook the presidential seat in the U.S., the Raqqa operation was on the agenda again. While Turkey carried on discussions with the new U.S. administration saying, “I have a concrete plan concerning Raqqa,” with the support of Russia, regime elements approaching al-Bab's south, took Manbij from the PYD. Although it is portrayed as the U.S. and Russia reached an agreement and double-crossed Turkey, this result was obliged as a result of Turkey's pressure. The PKK had to get out of Manbij. While those dreaming of carrying the PKK corridor that was tried to be built on Turkey's border two years ago from northern Iraq all the way to the Mediterranean had closed off part of the land they wanted to take to the local forces backed by Turkey, they were forced to hand over the lands in their hand to the regime through agreement.
Trump shelved the plan on the Raqqa operation that had been approved by the Obama administration and asked the Pentagon to prepare a new and more extensive plan. The new plan presented to Trump by the Pentagon was a sligtly more advanced version of the Obama plan. In summary, the U.S. generals were persistent on continuing with the PYD/YPG.
As Trump was not acting with urgency on Raqqa and discussions on the matter continued within the new administration, according to the mutual agreement between Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a face-to-face meeting date was set following the referendum. Prior to the meeting, a committee that included Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan and presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın, were in the U.S. for preliminary meetings. It was during this period that Pentagon announced Trump's approval of the order to supply arms to the PYD.
In addition to reactions from Ankara, there were of course reactions to this move in the media as well. However, the “experts analyzing the situation” on TV and in newspapers, started to make comments reminiscent of those prior to the Euphrates Shield.
There wasn't much to say or do any longer.
Were we ready to take on the U.S.?
The U.S. had chosen its side, so apparently we had to somehow find the middle path.
These and other numerous sophisticated statements, sadly do not hide the concern, lack of self-confidence and unfortunately the abundance of ideas flowing without knowing the reality on the ground pouring out from between the lines.
Only recently we organized a simultaneous air operation in both northern Iraq's Sinjar and northern Syria's Karachok in one night. Who was able to do anything to Turkey? At most, a couple statements were made, a couple photographs were taken with the PKK, footage of a few U.S. vehicles which have no military deterrence heading toward Turkey's border were released through the media. That's all.
It is clear the Pentagon chose to make a move before Trump and Erdoğan sat at the table together; those trying to shape the talk to take place at the table before Erdoğan convinces the new president who has shortly shown that he is easy to convince, made sure that Trump, who is in a fight with the established order, signed the order in question.
Those who have reached the point of, “We are dead, what are we going to do now?” based solely on the order signed by Trump are either forgetting that this is a matter of existence for us or do not know what the “matter of existence means. Those who say that the Turkish side's hand has weakened at the table seem to think the the president's statement, “We could unexpectedly come one night,” is a line from a song.
One would hope that as the president's plane takes off from Beijing and heads toward Washington, the TSK unexpectedly starts am operation and, since those sitting across us make a move, in contradiction with the ethic of sitting at the table, so they can show how one makes a game-spoiler move. For example, a ground operation can be started from Tal Abyad and, like the White House telling us, “We give Turkey guarantee regarding security risks,” Turkey should say, “We give the U.S. guarantee regarding security risks.”
Even though it doesn't happen as we wish, contrary to certain circles lacking self-confidence, neither the U.S. is able to do everything it wants in the U.S., nor has everything Turkey wants to do ended. What will follow after the meeting that is going to “be a period, not a comma,” is due for many things to come.