How will the Istanbul bombing affect Ankara-Washington relations? | politics
Istanbul- Turkey had barely awakened from the effects of the sudden bombing on Independence Avenue last Sunday afternoon when telegrams of condolences and sympathy arrived from many countries, be they those with whom Ankara shared differences of alliance, friendship or even rivalry and opinion in maintains some files . While Turkey welcomed them all, one of them bluntly refused.
Yesterday, on his Twitter account, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan thanked all the countries and international organizations that expressed their condolences and shared his pain to his country. The tweet included a poster with the flags of these countries and organizations.
However, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu previously responded to the US Embassy in Ankara’s tweet, criticizing the United States’ support for the Kurdish People’s Defense Units in Syria, which Turkish authorities blamed for the Istanbul bombing after arresting the suspects over their involvement and involvement in the execution of the bombing.
Soylu said his country does not accept the US embassy’s condolences, citing Washington’s implicit responsibility for the recent bombings due to its support for the Kurdish units, which Ankara regards as a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) by Turkey and the United States classified as terrorist. The Turkish minister compared the American position to that of the “murderer who is one of the first to arrive at the crime scene”.
And while the US Embassy responded to Soylu’s remarks with “solidarity with Turkey, our ally in NATO” and the United States’ categorical condemnation of “all forms of terrorism,” US President Joe Biden reiterated his meeting with his Turkish counterpart , Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit being held in Indonesia, offering his country condolences for the victims of the Istiklal Strait bombing.
Reasons for harsh tone
Despite the recently prevailing language of solidarity, after the Turkish interior minister’s comments brought back into the discussion the question of the United States’ support for the Kurdish units, which Ankara has been calling for the end of for years without success, the harsh tone of the Turkish government in this question, which came from Soylu’s tongue, requires an examination of the reasons.
Wael Alwan, a political scientist at the Istanbul-based Jusoor Center for Studies, believes the Istanbul bombing has put the government’s insistence on its demand to secure Turkey’s southern border with Syria back on Turkey’s political agenda.
And Alwan told Al-Jazeera Net that Turkey “believes its national security is directly linked to clearing the areas adjacent to it on the border with Syria of separatist and terrorist groups.”
Turkey had signed deals in 2019 with both Russia and the United States, the main backer of the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” led by the Kurdish forces; The two countries pledge to remove these forces from Turkey’s border to a depth of 30 kilometers as a condition of ending Turkey’s military operation “Peace Spring,” which has already managed to remove units from the Tal Abyad and Ras al areas to defeat -Ain.
Alwan believes the Turkish assessment indicates that the United States has failed in its commitments and that the Kurdish entities and groups linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is on terrorist lists in Turkey, are still doing so are fully under the control of the European Union and the United States.
Support that goes beyond fighting ISIS
The political analyst pointed out that Turkey considers these groups “as a direct cause of these terrorist operations targeting Turkey’s national security” at a time when Washington continues to support them, and that support – as Alwan says – over the fight against the organization Islamic State goes beyond supporting the control of the Kurdish units over an area consisting of about 3 provinces.
Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch a new military operation in northern Syria to remove Kurdish groups from its borders, but opposition from the United States and Russia has prevented this.
Yesterday, Reuters news agency quoted a senior Turkish official as saying that his country’s armed forces will launch a military operation in northern Syria after completing an operation against PKK militants in northern Iraq.
In 2018, Turkey conducted a military operation called Olive Branch, during which it managed to defeat the Kurdish units from Afrin before launching Operation Peace Spring the following year.
The United States supports the Syrian Democratic Forces with equipment, weapons, training and military advice, as well as financial and political support.
Turkey’s president has consistently criticized Washington for sending “thousands of shipments of military equipment to terrorist organizations in northern Syria”; By land across the border with Iraq and by air.
In its 2023 budget proposal, the US Department of Defense earmarked $450 million for a program to train and equip the Iraqi security forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Last August, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor called on the United States and its allies to end its ongoing support for the Democratic Union Party, which leads the Syrian Democratic Forces, over its “gross human rights abuses.” The Observatory said in a statement released at the time that the party still receives political, military and financial support from countries including the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden.
For its part, Washington says its support for Syrian democratic forces is aimed only at fighting ISIS, noting that these forces include Arab factions and a mix of Kurdish and non-Kurdish fighters in their ranks.
A crisis that is not born of the moment
Mehmet Tahir Oglu, a Turkish writer and journalist, says that Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu’s recent statement does not necessarily indicate a major crisis between Ankara and Washington, noting that “the statement was not made by a diplomatic body with authority is to relinquish positions at international level .”
However, Tahir Oglu, speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, said that this certainly does not mean that there is no crisis between the two countries, but that it existed several years before the bombing due to American support for organizations that Ankara is considering terrorists in north-eastern Syria, but it was “not a spontaneous moment”.
The Turkish researcher ruled out that Soylu’s statements would lead to a major escalation, especially since there were talks between Ankara and Washington on several topics, above all the delivery of “F-16” fighters, and referred to the talks of the US Chief of Staff with his Turkish counterpart regarding the Taksim bombing and Biden’s declaration of solidarity with Turkey during his meeting with Erdogan.
Tahir Oglu said Turkey continues to strengthen diplomatic channels with the United States to resolve outstanding issues, stressing that Erdogan himself “maintains non-escalating diplomatic language towards the United States.”
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