It’s curious that just a couple of years ago President Brarack Obama called his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan his closest friend upon the world stage. Back then, Erdogan was perceived as a loyal member of NATO and an enemy of Russia’s imperial ambitions in the Middle East. Moreover, Erdogan was devoted to the ouster of Syrian president Bashar Assad, a stance that put him in direct opposition to Russia and its standing in the region.
The last couple of months has also been marked by the development of Washington’s new “strategic relations” with Kurdish self-defense forces both in Iraq but also in Syria. It’s hardly a secret that the White House sought to use those forces to score a major victory in the Middle East to preserve its crumbling hegemony and set Russia back. To achieve those objectives, the Pentagon has been increasing its military aid to the Kurds, especially in Syria, transferring small weapons to Peshmerga units along with providing them with extensive military training.
However, as it’s been noted by American media portal Newsmax, the world changing very quickly, therefore conditions that seemed to define world affairs yesterday are hopelessly out of date today. After the attempted coup against Erdogan, during this recent period Erdogan told media outlets that Putin is the “most significant” factor in resolving the Syrian conflict, a statement that blatantly ignored the role of the United States. Moreover, Erdogan has come to the obvious conclusion that reliance on the US as an ally is foolhardy, assuming that it’s better to deal with more trustworthy Russians than the unreliable Americans.
Therefore, it’s been announced that Tayyip Erodgan’s “new friend”, that is Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, will be visiting Turkey on an official visit on August 31, which will inevitably strengthen the development of bilateral ties between Moscow and Ankara.
Under these circumstances, Washington has decided to go all-in with a bid to mend its relations with Ankara by sacrificing its new-found Kurdish friends. It should be noted that Erdogan has the reputation of being an erratic man, one who is always willing to change his posture regardless of the things he said or did before for the sake of obtaining new political gains. And there’s little doubt that he would love to obtain a reliable ally in the fight against the Kurds whom he hates so much.
It’s already been reported that military advisers from the United States helped Turkey develop a plan for operations against ISIS terrorists in the Syrian city of Jarablus. Ankara has chosen its targets wisely in order not to get the attention of the international community by targeting the Syrian Kurds explicitly, acting on a pretext that it’s fighting terrorists instead. However, Tayyip Erdogan himself admitted that the operation prepared by Washington’s advisers is aimed at local Kurds.
As for Syria’s Kurds who Washington previously used to achieve its goals in the Middle East, they have become a bargaining chip that the White House is willing to sacrifice. Once the Kurds have fulfilled their role, their interests can easily be neglected by the US with Washington preferring to restore its ties with Ankara instead.
To add additional momentum to the recovery of damaged US-Turkish relations, the White House has canceled John Kerry’s visit to Ankara, replacing the US Secretary of State with the most influential representative of the American ruling elite – Vice President Joseph Biden, who visited Turkey’s capital at the height of Turkey’s invasion of Syrian territories controlled by the Kurds.
By throwing the Kurds under the bus, the White House has not simply solved the problem of mending its relations with Turkey by preventing Ankara from strengthening its ties of friendship with Moscow. It has also significantly reduced the intensity of Ankara’s demands to extradite the self-exiled cleric Muhammed Fethullah Gülen by making this matter a purely legal question and thus facilitating Joe Biden’s mission in Turkey.
So the ancient Latin proverb “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” (Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes) remains true in the respect of the policies pursued by the White House. And although today Washington was “bearing gifts” to Ankara at the expense of Syria’s Kurds, tomorrow any other “strategic partner” of the White House may find itself in the shoes of those forsaken Peshmerga fighters. After all, every one of them is only a small bridge that allows the US to achieve its stated goals, and any of these bridges can be blown up when agenda have already long since safely crossed and the time is right.
Jean Périer is an independent researcher and analyst and a renowned expert on the Near and Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”