Analysis: Multifaceted problems in Syria; US, Israel, Russia, PKK
The only way to achieve peace in Syria is for the U.S. forces to exit the country and American policymakers are in complete denial of this fact
Once again, Mr. Zvi Bar’el of Haaretz Newspaper warns his readers that “the Turkish whip is poised to lash out” and asks the United States to stop “the countdown to Turkey’s major invasion of Syria.”
I have never seen any of Türkiye’s confidential government-related plans on Syria; but I have been reading the official and unofficial, authorized and unauthorized, old and new, secret and open-source evaluations since the new republic gave up 11 Ottoman cities in Baghdad Eyalet (contemporary Iraq) and five cities in Halab Eyalet (modern Syria): Yes, it was a fait accompli of the British and French because the Ottomans were among those who lost in World War I. Despite the humiliation of yielding land that people considered part of their country for more than 400 years, it was administratively, juristically and politically ceding legitimacy over Arab provinces, for good. No, the Turks had no qualms or remorse about losing those lands, nor did they develop an irredenta about it.
Unlike Italians, for instance, we never described the region as “unredeemed Ottoman provinces.” One of the last action items of the last session of the last Ottoman parliament had been to declare the legal boundaries of the empire in a decision called Misak-ı Milli (the National Pact) that included some areas north of the Latakia-Kirkuk boundary, in a political move to strengthen the hand of the Ottoman delegation in upcoming peace talks. Then U.S. President Woodrow Wilson was going to ask his European partners to partition Ottoman lands among the 22 nations it ruled throughout its history, which would give a third of it to “Greater Armenia” and another third to “Unified Kurdistan.” Those peace talks never came to fruition; Turks signed their own peace accord with the Europeans of which “the U.S.-of-A.” has never been part until this very day.
“The Divine Destiny” had its own plans for Armenia: The Soviet Union made the existence of “Greater” Türkiye more essential for the new Europe. So they looked the other way when Turkish soldiers, a remnant of the mighty Ottoman Army, under the command of the National Assembly created in Ankara as the continuation of the Ottoman parliament with newly elected members, redrew the southern and eastern borders of the new republic. The new country did not include any Arab towns or cities. An “irredenta” should have ethnically related people to the main political unit in the center. Iraq and Syria were Arab lands; their people continued to speak Arabic. Ottomans had appointed local nobles to rule those lands with a nominal governor sent to Damascus from Istanbul to oversee their rule. They had their own local assemblies; the official language was never Turkish.
Long-standing Syrian crisis
As several historians would attest, the Ottoman rule in the East and West, in the Balkans, in the Caucuses and in Arabia had never been imperialistic: The wealth of the countries ruled had never been transferred to the motherland because, unlike colonialism, Ottomans did not have notions of “motherland” and “colony.” Hence, no colonization by ethnic Turks of ethnic Arab, Serbian and Greek countries occurred. There had never been an Ottoman policy to “Mahometanize” the Christian and Jewish natives. That is why Mr. Bar’el and his family speak Hebrew today!
Once again: No, the modern Türkiye did not, is not and will not prepare “a major invasion of Syria.” Mr. Bar’el probably knows this better than I do. I positively believe that Mr. Bar’el and Michael Rubin (of the American Enterprise Institute-fame, who keeps repeating the same allegations) and their ilk, know Türkiye has no intention to occupy and stay in Syria. But they know the existence of what Türkiye calls “a security belt” against PKK terrorists is the best way to prevent the dismembering of Syria and Iraq. That belt along Türkiye’s southeastern border, 300 kilometers (186 miles) long and 30 kilometers deep, would push the PKK terrorists, and their Syrian cohorts, the YPG, down to the south toward Bashar Assad’s regime forces. In fact, the Assad family has never been delighted with PKK terrorists; Bashar Assad and his predecessor and father, Hafez Assad, had never allowed the PKK to infiltrate into Syria, nor had the Talabani and Barzani families enjoyed their agitation in Kurdish-held areas of Iraq.
However, for some unfathomable reason, a select few people believe that a so-called “Kurdish state” in Iraq and Syria, when they eventually merge, would provide the best and everlasting security wall for Israel. They think it would protect Israel from Iran and (who knows?) from a Türkiye that might go full-Islamic! President Wilson didn’t hand-draw that map of Kurdistan for nothing! Besides, that “Kurdish state” would, by example, convince Kurdish people in Türkiye and Iran that it is possible to have their own country. Kurds are one of the founding elements of modern Türkiye; they are equal partners in economic, social, cultural and political life and separatist-terrorist activities have not been successful in dismembering the country, however, a unified Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish state might! That is basically what neoconservative hawks in the U.S. and their comrades-in-arms in the Middle East must have been thinking in a nutshell.
Hawks in U.S. foreign policy
When the al-Qaida terrorist group showed up in Syria and some parts of Iraq, all the prominent neocons like Elliott Abrams, a top Mideast aide to former U.S. President George W. Bush, whom later Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump rejected as deputy secretary of state; Bill Kristol – who did so much to coordinate with the Bush administration in rallying elite support for the Iraq invasion; and Paul Wolfowitz, Bush’s deputy defense secretary and a chief architect of the Iraq invasion, had been so obviously exulted with the excuse of arming PKK terrorists in Iraq and Syria. Now, under the disguise of the so-called SDF, a Syrian extension of the PKK, the U.S. would provide all the assistance to help the idea of Kurdish statehood flourish. In that exultation, no one asked how those Taliban soldiers, called Afghan Arabs, had been transported from Pakistan to Syria! The U.S. and its coalition against Daesh were now going to stay in the Levant until it has been turned into the long-awaited Kurdish state. Daesh disappeared almost overnight as soon as the U.S. Central Command erected its tents along the Turkish border.
The only problem is that – once a terrorist, always a terrorist – the U.S. soldiers could (perhaps, would) not keep the SDF on a leash; and the latter kept terrorizing people in Türkiye from those areas. A year ago, the U.S. and the Russian occupation forces in Syria signed agreements with their wet (and equally worthless) signatures to keep those terrorists away from Turkish borders. However, they did not keep their promises. For the U.S., it is understandable why they do not want to move the SDF 30 kilometers away from Türkiye because if the so-called Kurdish state created by the SDF will not “touch” Türkiye; it will be good for nothing. Messieurs Bar’el and Rubin and their ilk, therefore, try today to create a stigma about Türkiye’s cross-border counterterrorism operation by calling it an “occupation of Syria.” Even though they know Türkiye has no intention to remain in Syria as it would set a precedent to dismember the country.
The difficult part of this conundrum is the question of why Russia is helping the U.S. in its effort to create a PKK state in a county it is the only ally to. Russia cannot possibly buy the lie that PKK affiliates in Syria are “fighting against Daesh terrorists.” The U.S. is occupying Syrian oil fields and refineries and donating them to the YPG; and the Assad regime is purchasing gasoline from YPG. All these are happening right under the very eyes of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It is not logical; it does not fit the natural flow of life. As all zen and military experts say, the secret to effortless living lies in harmonizing with the flow of life. If the reason for the U.S. arming PKK affiliates and the Russian acquiescence to it is the presence of Daesh, Türkiye, with the cooperation of U.S. and under the observation of the Russian army, can put an end to it.
The best hope for peace and reconciliation in Syria is the exit of U.S. forces from the country and the Syrian government having full control of all its territory. That way, the total territorial integrity of Syria will be guaranteed.
What part of this simple statement do they not understand?