U.S. requires Turkey-Kurdish rapprochement – ex-envoy

The United States should foster a rapprochement between Turkey and Syria’s Kurds so that it can sustain its policy toward Syria, including the U.S. military presence there, according to James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and David Pollock

Turkey and the United States share crucial common goals -- getting rid of President Bashar Assad, creating a united Syria under UN auspices, reducing Iran’s influence and ensuring Syria’s neighbours are kept secure from threats, Jeffrey and Pollock said.

“The United States will have to triangulate its vital alliance with Ankara and its new public promise to maintain the (Kurdish) PYD partnership (including around 2,000 U.S. military advisors) for at least the coming two years,” they said. “There is a way forward, tricky but essential, to reconcile American interests with both their Turkish and Syrian Kurdish allies.”

The United States should persuade Kurdish forces to further distance themselves from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey. The second step should be to set up renewed channels between the PYD and Turkey, such as those that existed back in 2015, and between the PYD and the moderate Arab opposition, Jeffrey and Pollock wrote.

Thirdly, the United States must make it clear that it opposes any Kurdish secessionism, further Kurdish expansion into Syria and any further collaboration between the PYD and PKK. In return, it must reassure the PYD that there will be no further Turkish military incursions or action inside Kurdish-controlled Syria, they said.

“Without such cooperation, including the PYD’s, the U.S. presence in northeastern Syria and thus Washington’s entire Syria policy will be difficult to sustain,” they said. “That would not be in Turkey’s interest, especially as it would result in either Turkey occupying all of northeast Syria in the face of fierce resistance or allowing that region (and the pro-Kurdish military forces there) to fall under the sway of the Assad regime and Iran.”