Feb 24 2018

U.S. action required to improve relations - pro-gov't columnist

The United States and Turkey’s strategic partnership can only be revived if the U.S. takes concrete action to address Turkish concerns, writes Kılıç Buğra Kanat in pro-government Turkish Daily Sabah on Saturday.

Kanat’s piece, which echoes a constant theme in Turkish media, dwells on Turkish frustration at the failure of the U.S. to back up verbal promises with concrete actions on the ground in Syria.

Trust between the two nations is low following U.S. failure to act on reassurances it gave Ankara regarding the People’s Protection Forces (YPG) a U.S. backed Kurdish militia group that controls large swathes of northern Syria. Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist organisation because of its links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey has been fighting for decades.

Ankara is frustrated by continued U.S. support for the group, which played a key role in retaking ISIS capital, Raqqa, last year. The U.S., which had said it would stop supporting the YPG once ISIS had been defeated, says the fight against ISIS is ongoing. Ankara, on the other hand, says ISIS has been defeated and so the U.S. should curtail support for the YPG.

The U.S. was surprised when Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch”, its invasion of the Syria’s north-eastern Afrin region on Jan. 20th, suggests Kanat. This indicates the U.S. failed to understand how seriously Ankara views the threat the YPG poses to Turkey.

In order to improve relations 3 issues should be addressed. First, the United States must back up promises with action. Second, different U.S. agencies should stop giving conflicting signals regarding U.S. intentions in Syria. Finally, the U.S. should make statements expressing support for “Operation Olive Branch”.