If there was a Nobel Prize for hypocrisy, Turkey Foreign Minister Mevut Cavusoglu just won it. Speaking along side American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Ankara, Cavusoglu said,
“It is not good or realistic to work with a terrorist group while fighting another terrorist group”.
The irony is that Turkey claims to be fighting terrorism in Syria and they are doing so by funding, arming and fighting alongside jihadist FSA terrorists. The terrorist group that the Turkish Foreign Minister had in mind is the Kurdish YPG who are currently fighting as part of the strongly US backed SDF in Syria. Turkey and America are at a serious crossroads over the Kurds, with America seeing them as important allies and Turkey viewing them as dangerous terrorists.
In addition to desiring regime change in Damascus, Turkey’s other main goal and more recently their primary goal, has been to fight Kurdish forces in Syria. Things have reached critical mass as under Donald Trump, America now virtually exclusively backs Kurdish led forces in Syria, having given up on the Salifist jihdists favoured by both Obama and Turkish President Erdogan.
In spite of this tension, Tillerson said,
“There’s no space between Turkey and the US and our commitment to defeat Daesh(ISIS)”.
Tillerson also affirmed that the US and Turkey are strong NATO partners who are unified in the war against terrorism.
This statement is patently untrue not only because of Turkey’s avowed support for the terrorist group FSA, but also because Erdogan still blames the US and Gulenist forces in America, including Fethullah Gülen himself, for orchestrating the failed Turkish coup in 2016.
This all comes as Turkey’s National Security Council claimed that Operation Euphrates Shield, the code name for Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of Syria has been successfully completed.
The timing of Turkey’s ‘mission accomplished’ statement and Tillerson’s visit may not be coincidental. In spite of Turkey’s differences with the United States, it was clear that Turkey was an obstacle to the US objective using Kurdish forces to form a peace settlement in Syria. Given the timing, it looks increasingly likely, that someone in Washington phoned someone in Ankara and told Turkey to end Euphrates Shield.
Perhaps most interestingly of all, Tillerson said that the future of President Assad can only be decided by the Syrian people. This is as clear an indication as any, that under President Trump, the US has fully abandoned the ‘Assad must go’ mantra which guided Barack Obama’s Syrian policy.
In between the lines of hypocrisy, this statement is one of the most important developments yet in the still deeply shrouded foreign policy of Donald Trump.