The current "confrontation" between the United States and the Turkish Republic (TP) should be seen as a mere means of pressure on the official authorities of the Russian Federation. It can be assumed that official Washington is still familiar with the Syrian plans of official Ankara. The territory now officially controlled by Ankara today in the Syrian Arab Republic (SAD) is generally in line with the "no-fly zone" that the United States has designated in the 2012 as a way of dividing Syria.
Thus, the data on "non-polluting zones" were supposed to be used, both for the training of the Syrian armed opposition and for the creation of militant bases, and for the prevention of the restoration by Damascus of its control over the territory of the ATS through the concentration of a large number of refugees in them. By the way, the Turkish authorities intend to transfer the order of 3,5 of a million Syrian refugees from their territory to the territory of Syria freed from Kurdish militias.
The unity of the priorities of Washington and Ankara in SAR
The long-term interests of the Syrian issue in the United States and Turkey as NATO allies, as a whole, converge. In particular, the administration of the President of the United States, Donald Trump, in the Syrian direction seeks to:
first, the maximum program is to overthrow the President of SAD Bashar al-Assad in Damascus; the minimum program is to neutralize the aspirations of B. al-Assad to expand control over key SAR regions (large SIRs are nominally under the control of the B. al-Assad government, they are in fact in the hands of semi-autonomous militia forces);
secondly, to limit the mediation efforts of the Russian Federation against the background of the Astana negotiation process and the Sochi site.
At first glance, the interests of the United States and Turkey on the Kurdish question enter into a tough contradiction. The strengthening of the Kurdish military and political presence in the northern provinces of SAD is the main goal of the United States. Creation of a Kurdish autonomy in the north of the SAR will allow Washington to use this force as an instrument of pressure on Iran, the Russian Federation and Damascus. Moreover, in the long run, the Kurdish factor is of great significance for the United States in terms of Israel's security.
But on all these elements of the Syrian strategy, the official Ankara can reach a compromise with the official Washington. For a large part of the Turkish right, center-left politicians, high-ranking military officials, officials, diplomats, experts in international relations, NATO is an untouched and indisputable organization.
In other words, the intention of the President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to create the so-called SAT "Buffer zone" depth up to 32 km is realized, including, with the support of the USA. After all, Ankara in the north of Syria forms the new Syrian army, the police, special services, as well as creates regional and local authorities. R.T. Erdogan also intends to relocate Syrian refugees from the TSR to the north of the SAR, and also to intensify the military-political pressure on the official Damascus, in order to eventually bring to power the SAD representatives of the Arab-Sunni majority led by the Muslim Brotherhood. These plans by R.T. Erdogan are supported by the United States, Israel, and most members of the League of Arab States (LAG).
It explains NATO's solidarity with R.T. Erdogan and the fact that the official Washington seeks to take control of the site on the west bank of the Euphrates, which in Daires-en-Zor almost entirely belongs to the government forces of the SAD, which does not contradict the interests of Ankara. Especially since Iranians are active in this area, seeking to preserve the corridor from IRI to Iraq, SAD and then to Lebanon with access to the Mediterranean Sea.
In other words, the long-term objectives of Turkey on the Syrian front are:
first, the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and the formation of a proturian or loyal official Ankara government among the representatives of the Arab-Sunni majority and the Turkoman minority;
secondly, extrusion of all pro-Iranian Shiite armed groups from the APA.
Obviously, the above two tasks do not envisage the military-political presence of Russia in Syria. Thus, under the control of official Ankara, the Syrian armed groups launched launches of missiles and drones from the province of Idlib towards the Khmeimim airbase and the port of Tartus, while the Haiat Tahrir al-Sham group, known for its ties with Turkey, assumed responsibility for the downfall of Su-25 .
Most likely, Turkey will strengthen its activities in the north of the SAR and Iraq. After all, official Ankara should take measures to protect the national interests of the TP, taking into account the long-term plans of the United States in the SAR, the plans of the Russian Federation and Iran for the support of the President of the SAR Ayatollah Al-Assad, as well as the position of Israel in the Middle East region. In addition, the Kurdish organization of the RSC continues to be based in Iraq and, thus, poses a threat to Turkey. Therefore, Turkey conducts military operations against the Red Army in Iraq. The purpose of the official Ankara is to eradicate the RKK, which uses the Kandil and Sinjar Mountains in the north of Iraq as its base. Moreover, official Ankara is likely to expand its military operations against the Kurdish YPG group in Manjibia and on the eastern coast of the Euphrates River.
Consequently, the United States can make some concessions to official Ankara in the Manjiba issue. Indeed, all the soldiers of the Syrian Free Army (SSA), supported by Turkey, are mostly inhabitants of Manjibia. Therefore, there is currently an intensification of the contradictions between the YPG and the Arabs in Manjibia and the east coast of the Euphrates River.
In the 25 of May, 2018, the Turkish-American SAD Working Group at the Ankara meeting developed the main directions in the Manibi Road Map. The Turkish-American Working Group on ATS identified the main points of the road map for cooperation in order to ensure security and stability in Manjibia. Although, the United States will not refuse YPG plans against official Damascus. But, US efforts may prove to be in vain. The fact is that in the north of the SAR increases the factor of the protest forces of the SSA. 12 observation points are already installed in the Syrian Idlib. Thus, the Idlib, as well as the territory from Jebelbuz to Jias al-Shugur, is controlled by the SSA. This vast territory of the SAD, under the protection of official Ankara, obliges official Damascus, Iran, the Russian Federation and the United States to take into account the interests of both Turkey and the SSA as part of the negotiation process on the political settlement of the civil war in Syria. After all, the official Ankara and SSA through the Idlib may have a strong military-political pressure on Damascus in the direction of the province of Aleppo.
R.T. Erdogan will restore Turkey's relations with the United States and the EU after repeated local elections in Istanbul. The next 4-year free election period opens up the window of Ankara's ability to normalize its relations with the United States and the EU, which can provide Turkey with real help to reform the Turkish economy. By the way, the West already offers RT T. Erdogan to restore the economy. EU is the main trading partner of Turkey. In addition, the United States and the EU are basically ready not to take into account the suppression of democratic institutions in Turkey in favor of cooperation in the field of trade, refugee issues and the fight against terrorism.
Therefore, R.T. Erdogan will not radically change the foreign policy of official Ankara. Priority directions of Turkey's foreign policy are outlined in the program of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). R.T. Erdogan stated that the official Ankara will not stop the attempts of a mutually beneficial process of Turkey's accession to the EU, which it considers as a strategic goal. According to the President of the TP, Ankara's official wishes to strengthen the economic and political relations of the TP with various regional structures, especially with the EU. Besides, R.T. Erdogan considers it important to maintain close relations with an ally in the face of the US, overcoming disagreements.
True, the official Ankara intends to further strengthen relations with the Russian Federation, which is said in the program of the ruling AKP, promulgated by R.T. Erdogan. Moreover, the AKP program states that the official Ankara will defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine on the Crimea issue.
In other words, R.T. Erdogan and the ruling AKP have outlined the main contours of Turkey's foreign policy, which are already being implemented by official Ankara. In particular, official Ankara is active in the French direction in order to neutralize criticism by the United States, Germany and NATO. Thus, a contract was concluded between "EUROSAM" and the Department of Defense Industry of "Tier B" in joint development of defense and defense complexes. The project for the development of air defense and missile defense complexes, in which Italy also takes part, has a basic value for Ankara. After all, Ankara, by signing an agreement with the Russian Federation on deliveries of S-400, simultaneously seeks to develop air defense systems and NATO allies. Thus, the official Ankara intends to cover the airspace of the TP using several different air defense systems and take measures against the threat from either side.
At the same time, Turkey will continue to seek its regional leadership in the Middle East, and will therefore strive to position itself as a self-sufficient center of strength, an alternative alliance of the USA, Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), as well as the bloc of Iran, Russia and the President of the SAR A.Balal- Assad
From the deterioration of relations with the US and NATO, Turkey will suffer, which is dependent on the supply of American and European weapons. Most of the park of tanks and armored vehicles of Turkey are represented by the technology of the American and German production, the operation of which requires periodic repair and replacement of components, as well as modernization. Official Ankara expects the delivery of 120 fighters from the US 5 generation F-35. Some details of these fighters are made in Turkey.
Perspectives of Turkey's cooperation with NATO
The problem in the relationship between the TP and NATO is the refusal of official Ankara to participate in anti-Russian steps of the Alliance. Although, the role of Ankara as a kind of "patron" of the Crimean Tatar population and a NATO member requires Turkey to join anti-Russian sanctions.
Given the current military-political situation in the Middle East region, with the strengthening of the regional positions of Israel and the KSA, the threat of Kurdish separatism, the proximity of SAD and Iraq, official Ankara is likely to take pragmatic steps towards stabilizing Turkey's relations with NATO. In turn, NATO and the United States take into account the growing role of Turkey in the region of the Middle East and the Black Sea. Especially since the official Ankara controls the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. And this factor is of key importance in the event of a potential escalation of the conflict in this Black Sea region due to the naval activity of the Russian Federation, the United States and NATO in the Black Sea.
At the same time, the strengthening of the military presence of NATO in the Black Sea is not in line with the regional interests of Turkey. The fact is that at the 2023 year it is planned to complete the construction of the Istanbul Channel, which has to diversify the way out of the Black Sea. In the case of the implementation of this project, the question will probably be raised about the new regime of access to the Black Sea. Under these conditions, the strengthening of the military presence in the Black Sea of non-Black Sea states is unprofitable for Turkey, since the non-regional countries will endeavor to change the Montreux agreement on the passage into the Black Sea through the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits in their favor.
Under the circumstances, the most likely scenario is that Ankara will call on the parties to dialogue and to maintain the integrity of Ukraine. This will save Turkey's face as a NATO member and not spoil relations with the Russian Federation. This equilibrium between the Russian Federation and NATO for the current period is considered by Ankara as the most convenient variant of behavior. Turkey's influence on the Crimean Tatars in any case will remain unchanged, and relations with the Russian Federation will be maintained at the same level.
First, the in the framework of the implementation of its foreign policy doctrine, Ankara will maintain interstate relations with the United States and the EU at the current level, preventing the break of political and economic ties with its main partners.
The foreign policy of the TP does not foresee long-term rapprochement with the Russian Federation. Probably, official Ankara will continue to pragmatically build its relationship with the Russian Federation. Moscow and Ankara do not have a well-coordinated agenda for a long-term perspective, since in the TP and Russia different long-term interests and priorities. But, at the moment, Turkey and the Russian Federation believe their interests converge in strengthening their geostrategic positions in the Middle East region.
Second, the R.T. Erdogan does not currently care about the US, NATO and EU views on the actions of the Turkish authorities to overcome the internal political crisis and suppress Kurdish separatism in the republic. R.T. Erdogan will continue the course to further strengthen its power in the TP by means of purges in all branches of the country's power, including in the power structures. Ankara believes that the United States, the EU and NATO can not ignore that Turkey is the southern flank of NATO, which depends largely on the geopolitical situation in the region of the Middle and Middle East.
Therefore, in spite of some deterioration of relations with the US, the EU and NATO, the official Ankara does not intend to cut off cooperation with the above-mentioned geopolitical actors, since it is Turkey that is an important link and key partner of the Alliance in the Near and Middle East. In addition, it is with the help of Turkey that the United States and NATO engage Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Azerbaijan in their geopolitical interests. It should also be borne in mind that US military bases are stationed on the territory of TF. Trade war between US and TP is beneficial for Moscow, since negatively affects the image of the United States, NATO and Turkey.
Moreover, Turkey is a kind of counterweight to Iran, it seeks to expand its geopolitical and geo-economic influence in SAD, Iraq, Ukraine, the region of the South Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan. In addition to Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the United States does not have reliable partners and allies in the Middle East region. In turn, the United States and NATO are not interested in the Alliance following the EU to understand the process similar to Brexit.
Third, An agreement between the United States and Turkey on joint control over the Syrian city of Manjibe, for which the official Ankara will arrange another Turkish military base near Manibia, points to the intention of the two NATO member states to achieve a change of power in Damascus. It is symbolic that the talks were held at the headquarters of the European Command of the US Army in Stuttgart.
The Roadmap is likely to be used in other areas of SAR. After all, the main objective of the TP and the US in the SAR is to remove from the power of the unacceptable for both countries, B. al-Assad, which will lead to withdrawal from the SAR of Iran and significantly weaken the position of the Russian Federation within the framework of the Geneva negotiating process.
In other words, official Ankara and official Washington decided to strengthen the military and political presence of the United States and TP in the SAD to take part in determining the future of Syrian statehood without B. al-Assad and Iran through the Manjiba road map.
It can be assumed that the implementation of the road map will turn the city of Manjiba into a bridgehead for strikes by the government forces of the SAR, which will negatively affect the arrangements within the framework of the Astana process and the National Dialogue held in Sochi Congress with all the ensuing consequences, including escalation civil war. And official Moscow is concerned about the creation of a US-Turkish "joint mechanism" for the Syrian settlement. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has previously said that Ankara is ready for joint US-level measures in the region if YPG forces leave Manjiba. Turkey offers the United States to place a joint military contingent in the northern region of the SAD to provide security. Obviously, the American-Turkish "joint mechanism" for the Syrian settlement negatively affects both the Astana negotiation process and the Sochi agreements.
As a consequence, between Iran, the Russian Federation and Turkey, internal contradictions are increasing, since It is difficult to reconcile the interests of each participant with the intentions of the other party. In particular, Russian and Turkish interests are facing such strategic issues: the future of Kurdish autonomy within the ATS; further fate of the Alavit clan B. al-Assad; the scale of the Russian and Iranian military-political presence in SAR.
In addition, the recent offensive by the SAD government army in the province of Idlib is the reason for the disagreement between the Russian Federation and Turkey. Moreover, official Ankara is considering its military presence in the Ideliba de-escalation zone created within the framework of the Astana process as an instrument for expanding Turkey's influence in Syria and also as a springboard for future military actions against the Kurdish separatists.
Rauf Radzhabov Orientalist, Head of Analytical Center 3RD VIEW, Baku, Azerbaijan