The U.S. administration has concluded that it would be “absurd” to get into a confrontation with Turkey, a political analyst said Monday, after President Donald Trump reiterated his commitment to pull back American troops in Syria.
“I believe from both a political point of view and cost-benefit analysis, the U.S. administration came to the conclusion that it would be absurd to get into a confrontation with NATO ally and long-term partner Turkey and sacrifice Ankara for the sake of a tactical partnership with the Syrian branch of the PKK [YPG],” Dr. Ali Bakeer, a political analyst and consultant, told Anadolu Agency.
Bakeer, who obtained a PhD from Beirut Arab University, stressed that Turkey will carry out a “gradual” operation to clear areas close to the border of YPG/PKK elements without going deeper to achieve two main goals: “driving the YPG threat from its borders and securing the return of some refugees to their hometowns and lands in the north.”
He said there is one “unfavorable scenario,” which is the YPG/PKK giving the areas it controls back to the Bashar al-Assad regime before the Turkish operation.
Asked whether the U.S. pullback could bring the YPG closer to Assad or Iran, Bakeer said “all scenarios are possible.”
“The YPG never opposed the Assad regime and at certain points even kept good relations with Iran,” he said. “So it would not be a surprise if the YPG strengthened its relations with Assad.”
The Assad regime was the “de-facto founder” of the Syrian branch of the PKK when it hosted, supported and used Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the PKK terrorist group, against Turkey, Bakeer said.
“It used the YPG later against Ankara at the beginning of the Syrian revolution,” he added.
He said he does not think Russia or Iran will participate in efforts to stop Turkey’s operation in Syria, adding the role of two countries in the region is to “help Assad gain more control of Syrian lands.”
“Maybe Russia would be interested later in brokering a deal with the YPG, but as I said before, it is still early to foresee how things will emerge,” he said.
Bakeer underlined that the “best option” for the YPG/PKK is to dissolve itself, surrender its weapons and turn into a political party.
He added the way is to do that is “legitimize itself, join the political process, stop being a tool of Assad, pave the way for long-term sustainable relations with Turkey and bring benefits to northern Syria.”
“The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days; that was many years ago. We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight,” Trump tweeted earlier, referring to the U.S. presence in the region to fight Daesh.
He reiterated that he is pulling U.S. troops from conflict zones where there are no national interests.
“WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their ‘neighborhood’,” he said.
Trump also warned Turkey ahead of the planned operation in the country’s northeast, saying there would be economic consequences if it does anything “off limits.”
Turkey has long called for the U.S. to partner with it in the fight against Daesh, a terrorist group Ankara has worked to root out, arresting and deporting its members within Turkey.
Since 2016, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for nearly 400,000 Syrians who fled the violence to return home to western Syria.
After strategic coordination with American officials, the YPG re-branded itself as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in July 2017 to dissociate itself with the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
The PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people.