Last week, Western Journalism reported that Islamic State had succeeded in drawing Turkey into the Syrian war after a suicide attack by a Turkish terrorist affiliated with ISIS killed 32 young Kurds in the border town of Suruc in Turkey.
Turkey responded to the attack by launching airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria. This happened a day after a telephone conversation between President Obama and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in which the latter agreed, for the first time, to allow the US-led coalition against ISIS to use a Turkish air force base for strikes against Islamic State.
Shortly after Turkey entered the battle against Islamic State, it became clear that the government in Ankara had another reason to interfere in Syria and Iraq. Turkish airplanes attacked Kurdish positions in northern Iraq, and the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG reported on Monday that Turkey had shelled their positions in the border area.
Turkish media revealed at the same time details of a deal between the Obama administration and the AKP-dominated government in Ankara and reported a conflicting narrative of why Turkey intervened in Syria and Iraq.
A Syrian journalist reported that US administration officials contacted the Turkish government last month after the Turkish army amassed forces along the Syrian border. This happened after the Kurdish YPG militia conquered vast territories in northeast Syria and seized the strategic border town Tal Abyad in Syria.
Erdogan and Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu vehemently oppose the establishment of a Kurdish autonomous area or an independent Kurdish state along the Turkish border because they fear it will lead to increasing separatism among its own six million-strong Kurdish minority.
The Turks told Administration officials that they had drawn a red line from Aleppo to Kobani and that they would not allow more Kurdish advances along the border. The Americans were receptive to this message and saw an opportunity to finally enlist Turkey as a member of the anti-ISIS coalition. Negotiations started; and after a month, a deal was reportedly closed.
The US Air Force could use the Incirlik air force base in Turkey but had to allow Turkish oversight of the targets it would strike in Syria and Iraq from Incirlik. This means that strikes that would help the YPG seize more territory along the Turkish border would be vetoed, according to the Turkish outlet Today’s Zaman.
In return, the U.S. would cooperate with Turkey to establish a so-called ISIS free buffer zone in the north of Syria. Officially, the Turkish government says that it wants this buffer zone to keep ISIS away from its border and to relocate the one and a half million Syrian refugees in Turkey. The Syrian Kurds, however, think that Erdogan and Davutlogu want to drive a wedge between the three Kurdish cantons in Syria–and by doing so want to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish autonomous area in Syria, Reuters reported.
The U.S. administration denies that it is collaborating with Turkey to create a buffer zone based on the Turkish model, Bloomberg reported.
“We’re not out there staking out zones and doing some things that I know have been discussed in years past — no-fly zones, safe zones. What we’re trying to do is clear ISIL,” a senior administration official said. “I think it’s important not to confuse that with staking out these zones that you can identify with road signs and on big maps, and that’s just not what’s happening.”
“On Monday, a White House official told an audience in a closed-door meeting at the Middle East Institute in Washington the same thing about there being no safe zone inside Syria, according to two people who were inside the meeting. The Obama administration is sending a delegation back to Turkey next week to work on exactly what the new cooperation along the northern Syria border will look like, the official said,” according to Bloomberg.
The Turkish government, however, insists that a buffer zone will be created; so it’s hard to see how the U.S. Administration will prevent Turkey from doing so. Besides, the Obama official Bloomberg quoted said the U.S. is “trying to clear ISIL”; so in the end, the territory will be free of ISIS if everything goes well.
There is more.
Some Turkish media and the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party PKK say that Turkish intelligence and security forces might have been complicit in the Suruc suicide attack. They point to the fact that shortly before the blast, PKK activists were banned from entering the building where the attack took place while the terrorist got through security control.
This might sound far-fetched; but this past weekend, the British paper The Guardian delivered new evidence that the Turkish government has given support to Islamic State in an attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
An anonymous Western official told The Guardian that when US Special Forces raided the compound of ISIS commandant Abu Sayyaf in Syria in May, they found proof of an oil trade between ISIS and Turkey worth tens of millions of dollars per year.
“There are hundreds of flash drives and documents that were seized there. They are being analyzed at the moment, but the links are so clear that they could end up having profound implications for the relationship between us and Ankara,” the Western official Told the Guardian.
As Western Journalism reported last week, the Turkish Intelligence Service MIT has been delivering weapons and ammunition to Islamic State as well.
The Turkish government has clearly used Islamic State to get rid of the Assad regime but has apparently come to the conclusion that direct intervention in Syria has become necessary because of Kurdish national aspirations and because of the overall situation in the country. It has become clear that Syria as we know it has ceased to exist, and Erdogan wants to be in the position to determine the future of the areas that border Turkey. So the Turkish government has clear goals and acts accordingly.
The same cannot be said of the U.S. administration, thinks military affairs analyst Jennifer Dyer.
She wrote that the U.S. military does not understand the new partnership with Turkey because there are no territorial or operational objectives–and there are no clear directives on the use of military power. She recalled how another U.S. operation to improve the situation in Syria without clear objectives became a huge failure. Dyer was referring to the training of a new local ground force that was supposed to turn the tide in the never-ending war. Nine months after the announcement of this plan, only sixty fighters have been recruited and trained. Basically, the U.S. is in this partnership for the convenience of Turkey, she concluded.
Some analysts say that there is another conclusion that can be drawn. By entering into a partnership with Turkey at a time when Kurdish forces were the only ones who succeeded in driving Islamic State out of territories in Iraq and Syria, the Obama administration seems to be selling out the Kurds.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth