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Turkeys take advantage of the Syrian and Ukrainian crises frustrate the United States and Europe

 


Erdogan denounces the hypocrisy of the detractors of terrorism

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğanas always, play hardball with allies and foes alike.

This week, he insisted that his commitment to establishing a 30 km safe zone in Syria is stronger than everregardless of calls from Biden administrations for restraint in targeting US Kurdish partners in Syria.

Turkey launched artillery, drone and airstrikes against mainly Kurdish towns in northern Syria after a November 13 terror attack in Istanbul killed six Turkish civilians. Ankara again threatens a total invasion.

Turkey views the mainly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara says is responsible for the Nov. 13 and other bombings.

Turkey, along with the United States, views the PKK as a terrorist group, but the United States has a different view of the SDF, which has been Americas’ partner on the ground in successful military operations to defeat the state Islamic (IS) in Syria. .

In a phone call on December 1, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar fired US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austins “strong opposition” to the operation, according to the United States should understand us.

Erdogan seemed to be referring to the United States and other Western countries when he said on May 28: We do not have to tolerate the hypocrisy of those who support the terrorist organization known to take different names.

The SDF halted anti-ISIS operations last week to prepare for a Turkish offensive, leading the US military to scale back patrols alongside the SDF, as Jared Szuba reports.

amber time got the scoop this week that the US evacuated civilian personnel, including diplomats, from northern Syria to Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, in response to Turkish attacks on SDF assets as well as critical civilian infrastructure, including oil installations, power factories, grain elevators and medical facilities.

No deal yet on Swedish NATO membership

Erdogan used Swedish and Finnish bids to join NATO, after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, to argue for maximum changes, especially in Swedish policy towards the PKK.

The parliaments of each of the 30 members of the alliance must approve the candidates. Turkey is the last holdout. Although the three countries reached an agreement in June to lift the Swedish and Finnish arms embargoes on Turkey and improve the interdiction of terrorist financing and networks, Ankara’s approach is wait-and-see.

Erdogan has a bill for goods related to his Syrian and Kurdish policies, and he expects payment in full, or nearly so, before approving Sweden’s admission. It’s not a card he’s going to play cheaply, given the ongoing Turkish military operations in Syria, and Erdogan’s aim to reset his foreign policy to adapt to changes in the global environment. .

So it’s hard to share the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinks confidence this week that Sweden and Finland will soon be members of NATO.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on December 1 that he had fewer problems with Finland’s candidacy and, while acknowledging changes to the Swedish constitution and new anti-terror laws, added that Sweden had not yet taken any concrete steps regarding the extraditions and the freezing of terrorist assets.

We need to see implementation, Cavusoglu said, and some of these laws will come into effect with the new year.

The Turkish president enjoyed a star on the world stage as an international mediator between Moscow and Kyiv, maintaining a dialogue with the Russian president Vladimir Poutineand, with the UN Secretary General Anthony Guterresnegotiating the Black Sea Grain initiative allowing the resumption of Ukrainian and Russian grain exports of food and fertilizers.

Not so fast on Turkey-Syria rapprochement?

Another element of Erdogan’s Syrian policy is a possible rapprochement with the president Bashar al-Assadencouraged and facilitated by Russia, which could be its final blow against the Syrian Kurds.

SDF Commander Mazloum Kobane discussed his own negotiations with Damascus in an exclusive interview with amber time last month.

There is also a domestic political angle, such as Fehim Tastekin points out. Turkey is holding elections in June 2023 and the opposition is calling for rapprochement to deal with the pressure of more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees on the Turkish economy.

Erdogan does not want his opponents to lose this advantage, writes Tastekin. He said a new page could be turned with Syria after the election, but recent developments indicate he could meet Assad sooner. However, Assad seems to annoy Erdogan by not going back on his conditions for dialogue: the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syria and the end of Turkey’s support for the armed rebels. Thus, Erdogan may feel that a new military operation could help him impose his own terms of redress on Assad.

And Syria may not be in a hurry

Although popular anger against the SDF has grown over its ongoing partnership with the US and control of oil-rich areas, Damascus is unwilling to fight the Kurds for Turkey’s sake, Tastekin adds . Moreover, he is clearly reluctant to offer an election gift to Erdogan. Syrian officials often feel the need to note that the Kurds did not take up arms against the state and fought the terrorists, even receiving arms aid from Damascus. In other words, they think that Syrian anger towards the Kurds should not play into Erdogan’s hands.

It’s always the economy

Turkey is trying to avert another, even worse, currency crisis by securing investments worth $10 billion from Qatar and $5 billion from Saudi Arabia, as Mustafa Sonmez reports.

The deal with Qatar, a close partner of Turkey, could take the form of an exchange, bond or other method. Saudi Arabia plans to deposit the funds at the Central Bank of Turkey.

The deal with the kingdom, along with the UAE’s creation last year of a $10 billion fund for Turkish investments, represents a turnaround in Ankara’s relations with the two Gulf states.

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