Why is Trump afraid of Erdogan
America and Turkey have seldom been so united. Ankara is celebrating a "victory" in Syria, and Donald Trump is celebrating himself. "Toughness and love" towards Turkey made this "unconventional" diplomatic success possible, the US President said. In truth, however, it was probably the fear of what they did together in northern Syria that drove Washington's emissaries to Ankara and made the Turks agree to a provisional ceasefire.
It was the US troop withdrawal from the region, personally ordered by Trump, that gave Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan carte blanche to launch the attack. Already in the first days of the offensive tens of thousands were on the run in Syria, there were many dead and injured on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border. Somehow Ankara had not considered that the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG, abandoned by America and left to its own devices, would also fire back on Turkish territory. Turkey was unable to protect its own population, and people also fled in the Turkish border towns.
When the first prisoners of the Islamic State terrorist militia seized the opportunity in the hail of bullets and ran away, it acted like a storm warning, not only in Washington, but also in Moscow. Some people in Ankara must have been worried too, after all, there have been devastating IS attacks in Turkey in the past. Then the Syrian Kurds officially resigned their responsibility for all IS prisoners because they had to defend themselves. By then, at the latest, it had to be clear to everyone what chaos only nine days of war had caused in northern Syria.
Singing out loud usually helps with fear. That is why the Ankara agreement is now being celebrated. But what did US Vice President Mike Pence and Erdoğan really achieve in the four and a half hours at the negotiating table? The guns should be silent for 120 hours, which is to be welcomed without reservation, because it gives people on both sides of the border a respite. America and Turkey, however, made their deal without the dictator in Damascus, who does not want to tolerate Turkish troops on Syrian territory.
However, Turkey still wants to "protect zone" under its control over an area larger than Lebanon. In the future, she is likely to rely on America's approval. The Syrian Kurds say the deal only applies to a much smaller territory. There are far more air holes in the agreement.
The USA and Turkey promise a joint fight against IS, but how is that supposed to work? Will US troops cancel their withdrawal? But what do they do then without their Kurdish foot troops? They switched sides and submitted to Damascus for self-protection. So if there is a winner, it is dictator Bashar al-Assad. How he will use this advantage - against the archenemy Turkey - is open. For Turkey this means that it will have to find an understanding with the Kurds, also for their inner peace, before new fronts open up.
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