Jan 23 2018

Level of distrust between Turkey and the U.S. beyond repair - Turkey expert Cook

The Middle East scholar Steven A. Cook answered Ahval's questions over his recent article, which reaches back to the World War One to find an "entirely rational basis" for Turkey's current Afrin operation, as well as its bellicose approach to Washington's Kurdish policies.

Cook is the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy. 

Cook believes that while some of "Olive Branch" operation's military and political goals are clear, others are far more vague.

Cook, for example, does not see any clear indicaiton of Turkey's endgame after the Afrin operation. 

He also has serious concerns about one of the stated objectives of the operation, which is to create 30 km deep security belt inside the Kurdish enclave. Cook argues this idea of creating a buffer zone is reminiscent of some terrible experiences of the past.

All of these, according to Cook, carry the potential to turn the Afrin operation into a quagmire, as other experts argue.

Cook also commented on the discussion over whether the Kurds are becoming Washington's new ally in the Middle East to replace Turkey. Cook admits he has witnessed such discussions very often and sees this discussion as a "logical conclusion of everything happening for the last 3 years", since the Syrian Kurds became the most valuable partner of the US against ISIS fight while the Turkish government was mostly looking the other way.

Cook emphasized that there is an ongoing effort between the allies to find ways to work things out currently. However, the "level of distrust is so great between Washington and Ankara that I can not see how this relationship can be repaired", added Cook.

Here, in this interview, Cook answered questions by Yavuz Baydar, the Editor in Chief of Ahval and Ilhan Tanır, the Executive Editor of Ahval English.