Turkey is Set for Direct Conflict with the US Over Iran’s Advance in Syria #SyriaWar
The optimism of your editorial “ A chance for Turkey and America to rebuild ties” (October 15) is based on a false assumption: a mutuality of ties between the US and Turkey. But this is far from being the case.
The driving force behind US pressure on Turkey to secure the release of pastor Andrew Brunson was the looming midterm elections and President Donald Trump’s dependence on the evangelical vote, which helped him secure the presidency. As far as Turkey is concerned, it is the current economic crisis and tumbling lira that threaten to overwhelm Turkey.
One thing you got right: the Erdogan administration needs goodwill in Washington if Turkey’s economy is not going to collapse. But in calling for a more understanding attitude on the part of Turkey towards US aid for Syria’s Kurds, there is one thing you have misunderstood. After the success of Operation Euphrates Shield in 2016 and Operation Olive Branch (the occupation of the Kurdish canton in northwestern Syria) in January, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now threatens to launch a new operation against Kurdish forces east of the Euphrates and root out their “terror nests”. Faced with local elections next March and an economic crisis, Turkey’s president needs to drum up the kind of electoral support (90 per cent) that he achieved with Operation Olive Branch.
This will bring Turkey into direct conflict with the US strategy of containing Iran’s advance in Syria, which is dependent on support from the mainly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. This is a conundrum that even Mr Trump will find difficult to solve.
Originally published at: https://www.ft.com/content/623bdb94-d2c1-11e8-a9f2-7574db66bcd5