Two NATO al­lies will main­tain the sta­tus quo, de­spite the on­go­ing dif­fer­ences

Global Times - - ASIANREVIEW - Page Ed­i­tor: wang­wen­[email protected] glob­al­times.com.cn

De­spite con­tin­ued ten­sion in bi­lat­eral ties, Tur­key and the US are ex­pected to man­age to get on with­out spoil­ing re­la­tions, as Anakra con­tin­ues its mil­i­tary buildup against the Wash­ing­ton-backed Kur­dish mili­tia in Syria.

“No mat­ter how se­ri­ous the dis­agree­ments are, Ankara would seek in the end to strike a bar­gain with the US,” Hasan Koni, an an­a­lyst on in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions with Is­tan­bul Kul­tur Univer­sity, told Xin­hua.

Ties be­tween the two NATO al­lies have been strained mainly be­cause of the US sup­port for the Kur­dish mili­tia in Syria, which is seen by Ankara as a ter­ror group. Ankara’s re­fusal to scrap a deal on Rus­sia-made S-400 air de­fense sys­tem and to com­ply with US sanc­tions on Iran are other ma­jor thorns in bi­lat­eral ties.

The con­cept of iden­tity, of which re­li­gion is a ma­jor com­po­nent, is a cen­tral theme in Koni’s line of rea­son­ing, as he ar­gued that peo­ple who grew up with an Is­lamic life­style would be nat­u­rally in­clined to­ward the West be­cause of its more sym­pa­thetic at­ti­tude to­ward the Is­lamist ide­ol­ogy.

Ankara would there­fore pre­fer to avoid dis­rupt­ing ties with Wash­ing­ton, said Koni.

Tur­key has been threat­en­ing a cross­bor­der op­er­a­tion against the Kur­dish mili­tia in north­east­ern Syria de­spite the US com­mit­ment to pro­tect its Kur­dish ally.

No cri­sis should be ex­pected be­tween Ankara and Wash­ing­ton, Il­han Uzgel, an an­a­lyst on in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions who taught at Ankara Univer­sity, told Xin­hua.

The two coun­tries would man­age to reach a com­pro­mise as in the past, he said, main­tain­ing that the im­age of a cri­sis in ties is ac­tu­ally mis­lead­ing.

Both Koni and Uzgel be­lieve the US may say “yes” to a lim­ited Turk­ish in­cur­sion into Kur­dish-held ter­ri­tory, where Ankara would set up a buf­fer zone for its own se­cu­rity.

Such an op­er­a­tion, though lim­ited, would play into the hands of Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan prior to the lo­cal elec­tions in late March with­out es­sen­tially chang­ing the sta­tus quo in the Kur­dish-held ter­ri­tory, both an­a­lysts said.

Mean­while, Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu has un­der­lined Ankara’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to elim­i­nate the Kur­dish mili­tia, say­ing his coun­try may start op­er­a­tions in the event that the US should take its time in with­draw­ing troops from Syria.

The US has sev­eral thou­sand troops and over a dozen mil­i­tary bases in Kur­dish-held ar­eas in war-torn Syria.

Ankara orig­i­nally threat­ened to launch the mil­i­tary of­fen­sive last month, but de­cided to put it off after US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump un­ex­pect­edly an­nounced a with­drawal of US troops from Syria.

State­ments by top US of­fi­cials in the past week in­di­cated, how­ever, that Wash­ing­ton would with­draw troops only after mak­ing sure Ankara would not at­tack the Kur­dish fight­ers.

In a sign of protest, Er­do­gan re­fused to meet with Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor John Bolton, who dis­cussed Syria with other Turk­ish of­fi­cials ear­lier this week in Ankara.

“In the wake of the un­suc­cess­ful Bolton’s visit to Ankara, Turk­ish-Amer­i­can re­la­tions are prob­a­bly headed to­ward an­other im­passe,” said Faruk Lo­goglu, a for­mer Turk­ish se­nior diplo­mat.

“Whether the two al­lies will be able to avoid a new cri­sis will de­pend largely on the next moves by Er­do­gan and Trump in Syria,” he told Xin­hua.

The ar­ti­cle is from the Xin­hua News Agency. opin­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

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