US President Donald Trump is set to mend the United States-Turkey relationship after many ups and downs by cutting off its supply of arms to Kurdish fighters in Syria. This vital information was given by President Trump to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a phone call after Sochi summit that deliberated on ways to peacefully resolve Syria to ensure that their differences isn’t exploited by geopolitical rivals and strategic interests of both the countries are not affected.
In a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump said he’d “given clear instructions” that the Kurds will receive no more weapons, adding that “this nonsense should have ended a long time ago,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The White House said it was making “adjustments” to its support for partners inside Syria but did not explicitly name the Syrian Kurdish militia the YPG. The United States has been arming the Kurds in their fight against IS through an umbrella group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.
The U.S. has long supported Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against Islamic State. On the other hand, Turkey has long opposed an independent Kurdistan and considers the Kurdish nationalist party within Turkey, the PKK, a terrorist organization. This move of Trump strengthens the alliance between Turkey, a NATO member since 1952 and the United States of seven decades.
In July 2015, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ended the peace process with the Kurds after series of attacks against Turkish targets and launched military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the parts of Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish-populated town in south-eastern country. Turkey had launched peace negotiations with the jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in late 2012 when Erdogan was prime minister but the process collapsed after a bombing blamed on Islamic State (ISIS) in a Kurdish border town killed 32 people and triggered revenge attacks by Kurdish militants against Turkish security forces they accused of cooperating with the jihadists.
The tensions between ANkara and Washington recently escalated when a Turkish employee was detained at the United States consulate in Istanbul and the subsequent United States decision to suspend the processing of non-immigrant visas for Turks.
Earlier, Turkey had shown its reservations about US support for the YPG, which Erdogan brands the group’s fighters as terrorists.
The Kurds are an ethnic group living in the region in Middle East spanning adjacent parts of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and northern Syria (Western Kurdistan), they regard as Greater Kurdistan. People in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq voted for independence on September 25 in a controversial referendum, amid rising tensions and international opposition. More than 92 percent voted “Yes” to secession, with the turnout at almost 80 percent. Almost all of northern Iraq’s oil goes to ports in Turkey through an oil pipeline managed by Turkey. In 2016, the KRG even offered to sell Turkey a stake in their oil fields for $5 billion. Iraqi military captured the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas from the Kurdish regional government in retaliation for a Kurdish independence referendum. Meanwhile, a Kurdish opposition group that opposed the recent referendum on secession from Iraq has called for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Masoud Barzani to resign.
Erdogan has been demanding the U.S. to hand over Fethullah Gulen, the man responsible for coup attempt. It will be interesting to see how President Trump applies track II diplomacy to mend the ties.
By: Arti Bali
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.