In case it wasn’t clear that Turkey isn’t a reliable ally…
Fellow NATO member now claims US is making “calculations” against it
By Georgia Logothetis, Managing Director
Another day, another instance of a so-called “ally” undermining US interests in the region. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan donned his tinfoil hat again to claim that US military was making military “calculations” against Turkey:
“If the United States says they are sending 5,000 trucks and 2,000 cargo planes of weapons for the fight against Daesh (Islamic State), we don’t believe this,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party in parliament.
“It means you have calculations against Turkey and Iran, and maybe Russia,” he said, repeating a call for U.S. troops to withdraw from the Syrian town of Manbij.
It’s not the first tiem Turkey has undermined the U.S. military’s campaign against terrorism. The most obvious point of course is Turkey’s bombing of Kurdish forces in Syria — the very same Kurds the U.S. has previously armed to fight ISIS. Turkey’s moves sparked a public rebuke from the Pentagon which said Turkey’s “Afrin operations are impeding the task to eliminate ISIS."
One cannot underscore how debilitating Turkey’s actions in Syria are to the U.S. military’s strategy there. Turkish forces entered Syria with the explicit purposes of attacking Kurdish fighters in Syria, whom they claim are one and the same with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a terrorist group in Turkey. As The New York Times editorial board points out, “[t]he two groups have common roots, but experts say the Syrian contingent has largely kept a 2012 promise not to provide material support to the Turkish Kurds.” The editorial board also highlighted the dangers in Turkey continuing its offensive against the Kurds in a fashion that may put American troops at risk:
Mr. Erdogan is making things worse by attacking the Kurds in Syria, which could provoke a surge of Kurdish nationalism in the region. The offensive is part of his long-planned strategy to rally domestic support ahead of the 2019 elections, which relies heavily on portraying the United States as an enemy. It began after the Pentagon revealed plans for a new American-backed, 30,000-member border force in Syria that Turkey views as an attempt to create an autonomous Kurdish enclave.
When Turkey reacted angrily, the White House disavowed the plans and hinted it was easing support for the Kurds, but the Pentagon said a Kurdish-led force was still in the works.
To placate Turkey, Washington gave a green light to its offensive against Afrin, claiming that the Kurds in that area were not American allies. But it warned against an incursion into Manbij, where the Turks could come into direct contact with American forces.
In Afrin, Turkey is making the situation worse, according to U.S. Defense Secretary John Mattis:
“In the Afrin area, we had actually gotten to the point where humanitarian aid was flowing, refugees were coming back in … the Turkish incursion disrupts that effort.”
As for threatening American troops, that’s nothing new for Erdogan’s government:
If the Kurds and Americans continue to work together, [Erdogan advisor] Cevik said during a radio interview, “we won’t be considering the fact that there are armored American vehicles…All of a sudden, by accident, a few rockets can hit them.”
The Erdogan advisor was forced to do a walk-back on the comments.
Now, all eyes are on the Syrian town of Manbij.
In a speech this week, Erdogan reiterating his call for U.S. troops to leave the town, which it says it will liberate from ISIS. Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of the United States Central Command, said that withdrawing U.S. forces from Manbij is “not something we are looking into.”
And so, on CNN this weekend, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Turkey could target U.S. forces if they wear YPG “uniforms”:
“If [the YPG] do not withdraw from Manbij, then we will go to Manbij, we will go east of the Euphrates,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Sunday on CNN. Mr. Bozdag went further, adding that U.S. forces could be targeted by Turkish troops moving into Manbij if they are spotted wearing YPG “uniforms.”
Is this how a true ally acts? Threatening U.S. forces. Jailing a Turkish-American scientist (and being the world’s worst jailer of journalists). Arresting U.S. diplomatic staff. Refusing to recognize the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey over a visa spat. Threatening to cut off U.S. ties because the American justice system dare go after corruption. These are not the actions of a stable, reliable ally.
In a historic visit to the Vatican yesterday, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan received a peace symbol from the Pope.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan became the first Turkish president to visit the Pope in the Vatican in nearly six decades on Monday. […] At the end of the private part of the meeting, the pope gave Erdogan a bronze medallion showing an angel embracing the northern and southern hemispheres while overcoming the opposition of a dragon.
“This is the angel of peace who strangles the demon of war,” the pope told Erdogan as he gave him the medallion, made by the Italian artist Guido Verol. “(It is) a symbol of a world based on peace and justice.”
Peace & Justice. Two concepts apparently foreign to our so-called ally Turkey.