Mar 31 2018

French President is drawing a red line for Turkey - Oliver Piot

France’s president Emmanuel Macron’s recent support to Kurdish forces in Syria aims to ensure France’s long-term influence in the reconstructing of the country, according to Oliver Piot who spoke to France 24 on Saturday.

Macron met with representatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Thursday in Paris and offered to be a mediator between SDF and Turkey. Turkey sees SDF and its affiliated armed forces as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, an armed group that has been fighting for autonomy inside Turkey for more than 30 years.

Turkey's president Erdoğan reacted to Macron’s meeting with SDF on Friday saying “France lost its rights to complain about any terrorists or any terrorist attacks. Those who are together, who host them [YPG reps] at their palace will come to this realization sooner or later.” Also on Friday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ stated that France would become a ''target of Turkey if it continued to support terrorist organizations."

According to Piot, after the U.S. President Trump announced this week his intention to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, Macron realised that the West’s ability to play a role in the restructuring of Syria will depend on France’s intentions and as a result, he send a strong signal by expressing France’s support to the Kurds. “If we abandon the Kurds, we abandon any chance for an alternative to Syrian reconstruction under the sole aegis of Bashar al-Assad,” said Piot, the author of the book “The Kurdish people: keystone of the Middle East”.

Piot thinks Macron, who until today preferred to express concerns and warned Erdoğan, is now “crossing a line in his relationship with Turkey” and starting to be more firm. 

Yet, Piot adds that how France is going to support the Kurds is uncertain but foresees that diplomatic posturing soon will not be enough and France may find itself facing military engagement in northern Syria.