February 7, 2018 – Fort Russ News –
– Gazeta.ru, translated by Tom Winter –
|“Branch of Discord: Turkish tanks split NATO” with archive photo of Turkish troops in Syria|
The US and Turkey have had earlier disputes in Middle East policy – initially during the conflict in Iraq, and then in Syria. However, the Turkish Operation Olive Branch against the Kurds in Afrin has plainly made the situation acute, writes the portal “Gazeta.ru” on Monday.
Relations between Turkey and the US are “floating on the brink,” with the possibility of a conflict between them becoming quite real, said Anthony Skinner, an analyst with British consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, a Bloomberg agency. According to the expert, the risk of bilateral errors remains at a high level.
Both sides claim that Turkey and the US are in continuous contact.
However, there is no indication that these talks have resolved the key issue that could lead the two largest NATO armies to a direct conflict in northern Syria.
Pentagon leader James Mattis announced on February 2 that cooperation with Turkey could be designed so that support for the Syrian Kurds would not have to be stopped. In his opinion, the use of US troops for cooperation with the Kurdish militias is one of the ways to ensure Turkey’s security, that they [the Kurds] will not attempt attacks on Turkish territory because of our presence,” Mattis said.
In Afrin, there was an operational group of Russian military and police officers, but already on January 20, after the first Turkish attacks in the region, the Russian Ministry of Defense decided to shift to another location for security reasons. In Afrin there are no US troops, but there are some in Manbij [where US troops come under fire from Turkish forces – tr]. Washington reported that it would not follow Moscow’s example and thus would not divert forces from the region.
Turkey sees the Kurdish enclave along its southern border as a direct threat to their national security, and perceives US cooperation with Syrian Kurds as a betrayal, says the Turkish analyst Nihat Ali Ozcan. Therefore, the risk of mutual attacks by two NATO allies persists until one of the sides backs off.
If the US decides to provide air defense to the Kurdish allies in Afrin, they would launch aircraft from the NATO air base in Incirlik, Turkey. This will be used by both US and Turkish military, according to Business Insider.
In all of the processes associated with US and Turkish policy in Syria, NATO has de facto taken a neutral stance and distanced itself from the Syrian issue, political scientist Ruslan Mamedov said. “The US and Turkey were given the opportunity to act independently in this direction. The constant allegations from Ankara have met with understanding in Washington, but that did not affect the policy of the US, “said the expert.
The main result of the previous Turkish operation “Euphrates Shield” in Syria was for Ankara preventing the merger of the Kurdish areas of Jazira and Kobani in northeastern Syria with the area of Afrin in the northwest. The current operation Ankara follows the same logic – to combat the Kurdish threat, as the Orientalist sees it. Moreover, such steps would consolidate Ankara’s role in the context of Syria’s settlement and the country’s future.
“Is that negative for the US? The Kurds now move with their units from the eastern areas to Afrin. This combination of circumstances dissipates the Kurdish forces and may harm the US plans in the region. Because the Americans want to use the Kurds in the northeast and protect the Kurds in Afrin,” said Mamedow.
The second largest NATO force, Turkey, of course, is now attacking US positions. But the Kurds of Afrin are a miscalculation for the US. Washington can only worry about whether the part of the Kurdish units from Kobani and Jazeera, who left their positions and now protect Afrin on the ground, will not allow Americans to pursue their policies in eastern Syria, the expert said