Will Salih Muslim sell you out as well? - MERVE ŞEBNEM ORUÇ

Will Salih Muslim sell you out as well?

Following the religious holiday, we've entered a new period, which will even push coalition negotiations into the background of the agenda, after a week of important developments. Turkey's air strike on ISIL in the north of Syria, attacks against PKK in Northern Iraq and operations against ISIL, PKK and DHKP-C organizations within the country, brought forward new arguments. One of those arguments is; Did the Americans sell out the Kurds?

First of all, it's necessary to state this; there was a remarkable martial mobility on Turkey's Syrian border. In Ankara, there were studies on the matter of strategies and moves that will be conducted in order to provide the border security and prevent any hostile structuring, especially ISIL, on the Syrian border.

On top of that, the signals, which were revealing that the sides were reaching an agreement on the “mutual struggle against ISIL” negotiations that were on-going for 9 months, the increasing traffic and the increasing diplomacy intensity with coalition-member countries and regional countries were remarkable. As it had been stated after the Ministerial Cabinet meeting last week, the developments parallel to the agreement on the matter of opening İncirlik Base to service the struggle against ISIL, brought forward interpreting Turkey's operations directed at the PKK and other structures that act together with them as a part of the agreement. Without a doubt, there is an indirect relation between Turkey's active participation in the coalition against ISIL and Turkey's operations against the PKK.

Throughout the past one and a half years, while the U.S. was prioritizing ISIL and deferred Assad on the matter of Syria, Turkey approached the situation in Syria as a whole and underlined that ISIL is feeding off the civil war environment caused by the Assad regime. This caused a process where Assad's friends in the region used the U.S. and the U.S. used them in return. In the past year, the U.S. provided air support to PYD's armed wing YPG in their air operations against ISIL in Syria, and this led the PKK to regard itself as the U.S.'s new ally.

All the civil, political groups, who are related with the organization, including HDP, and other organizations in Turkey, thought that the U.S. legitimized Assad and PKK terror and that it would always continue to be this way. All the people, who didn't completely support the Gezi incident (even though they supported separatist groups) and kept their silence during the December 17 – 25 period after Öcalan described it as a “coup”, regarded themselves as irrevocable allies of the U.S., brought the Resolution Process to the withdrawal point, became encouraged enough to violate the ceasefire, and started threatening the peace of the country with their weapon and bomb stocks in the cities. Thus, surely Turkey underlined the ones, who are encouraging those groups, that they will not show any more tolerance to this situation. Despite the U.S.'s statements like “We are respecting Turkey's right of self-defense”, which caused great frustration for some, and all the persistent questions, the answers that doesn't leave this frame are an indicator of this.

However, this matter is a detail in the agreement reached between the U.S. and Turkey on the matter of using the İncirlik Base, which has critical importance since it will provide serious flexibility and maneuver capability to the coalition against ISIL. Because, the actual matter is that two countries, which approached the Syria problem differently, came to the same line or at least got closer. In a sense, we are reading the signals that the parenthesis, which had been opened in 2013, has started closing as of today. In this context, the U.S.'s Minister of Foreign Affairs John Kerry's emphasis in his recent statement is important; “There has been some changes in Turkey's preparations, as well as ours”. While the U.S. stalled on the matter of Syria and prioritized the struggle against ISIL over the Assad issue, ISIL grew stronger, started threatening Turkey and spread to a bigger geography from Morocco to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen to Turkey. This ensured Turkey to prioritize the struggle against ISIL, and the U.S. to realize that taking a step on the Assad matter will bring benefit to the matter of struggling with ISIL. As a matter of fact, in the same speech of John Kerry, his “In order to defeat ISIL, we need to change the dynamics in Syria. Recently, we have been holding talks with Turkey” words are an indicator to this. Even though the differentiations in the statements from the Turkey and US side of the table are attracting attention in the press and we will see things more clearly in August as the İncirlik Base will be opened to service, it's clear that Turkey's desires will be fulfilled by means of establishing a de facto safe zone that will be protected with an air shield. On the other hand, Obama's “A political transition is necessary in Syria” words in his recent interview, is showing us that after two years, the U.S. reached Turkey's line or at least is getting closer to it.

What's striking is; these rebukes and U.S.'s agreement with Turkey coincided with the nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 countries. It's possible that Iran had been convinced to a Syria without Assad in the unseen parts of the nuclear negotiations. The confessions, that there is a soldier problem in the Syrian army and Assad is having difficulty controlling all of the country, we've witnessed last weekend are leading us to think that Iran is encouraging Assad to resign. We know for a long time that, if matters like the Tartus port and the regime's debts to Russia are sorted out, Russia is willing to support Assad. Saudi Arabia's dialogue with Moscow has a great impact on this matter.

Right at this point, we need to draw attention to Salih Müslim's statements, which could be summarized as “YPG might join the Syrian army, however, it's only possible in a democratic and federal Syria where the Baas mentality and intelligence does not exist…” and can be interpreted in any direction. If we take Turkey's, who is bombing the PKK camps in Northern Iraq, different attitude towards PYD in this process into consideration, we can say that all the elements in Syria, other than Assad and ISIL, have been given a final chance to become a part of Syria. If Salih Müslim gives up on his Assad ambition and accepts being a part of the new period in Syria, in the same way he signaled in his above interview, we might witness as the people, who were asking the “Did the U.S. sell us out?” question, starts asking “Did Salih Müslim sell us out as well?”


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