Turkish media have begun reporting on the high probability of Iran and Turkey establishing a long term task-force for joint cross-border military operations against Kurdish militants including the Turkey based PKK and the Iran based Kurdish group PJAK.
Both groups are regarded as terrorists by Ankara and Tehran and the recent meeting between General Mohammad Baqeri, the most senior general in Iran and Turkey’s President Erdogan indicates that the armed forces of both countries as well as political leaders are in far closer communication than in previous years or decades for that matter.
The pro-government Turkish outlet Daily Sabah has printed the following quote from The Turkish President. He said of possible cooperation with Iran,
“We have discussed the details on what kind of work we can carry out amongst us. There are damages that the PKK and its branch in Iran causes. We will carry out these discussions with the understanding that the threats can be defeated with the cooperation of both countries in a short time”.
This move cements Turkey’s further move away from NATO and closer to Eurasian powers, in this case Iran.
As I recently wrote in The Duran
“Turkey and Iran are already cooperating as members of the Astana Group whose mission is now strengthened by Turkey’s move away from the anti-government forces in Syria. Both countries additionally have found themselves on the same side in the Qatar crisis, although Turkey’s backing of Doha is far stronger than Iran’s. That being said, as Qatar and Iran sit on the same gas field, the prospects of long term Qatari-Iranian cooperation over energy remain very high.
At the same time, Turkey is building a large border wall on the Iranian border in a move to physically cut off Turkey from Kurdish regions of Iran. Iran has been generally cooperative in respect of the wall as Iran does not want to see Kurdish militants unite across the region any more than Turkey, Syria or Iraq do….
With Turkey now concentrating almost exclusively on stopping the advance of Kurdish militants in Syria, there is even a possibility that Iran or Russia for that matter could facilitate direct communication between Ankara and Damascus, something which hasn’t officially happened since 2012. To this point, the gradual process of reconciliation between Ankara and Damascus might already by in its embryonic stages. While many in Syria find Turkey’s long time support of anti-government terrorists to be unforgivable, the pragmatic desire to contain Kurdish nationalism may eventually trump such considerations.
The fact that the leaders of the second largest army in NATO, Turkey, are conducting history making meetings with the military leaders of Iran is a further sign that Turkey may in fact exit NATO sooner rather than later or at the very least continue to downgrade its de-facto relations with the US led bloc”.
Not only is Turkey now buying defensive weapons from Russia but may soon be cooperating with Iran against a mutual Kurdish enemy, one which in Syria and in some ways Iraq, is strongly backed by the United States, so much s that the Kurdish led SDF forces in Syria are now little more than a proxy of the Pentagon.
The United States has thus far done nothing to assuage Turkish fears that America seeks to establish a Kurdish state on Turkey’s southern borders nor has the US responded to the reports regarding a possible Turkish-Iranian cooperative initiative or alliance.
To quote the old aphorism, America is ‘quiet….a little bit too quiet’.
In the past, the US had been criticised for saying little about the frequent power grabs and authoritarian style of government which President Erdogan has brought about in Turkey. America’s absence from the international debate on the human rights, political rights and rights to freely express opposition opinion in Turkey has been noted by the internal Turkish opposition, although strictly speaking it is certainly not an American issue, however America typically tends to make many foreign issues their own.
Prior to Erdogan’s pivot towards Eurasia, America’s silence over concerns from Turkish opposition forces, including the primary secular Kemalist CHP opposition party could be easily explained by the fact that Erdogan was the leader of a NATO member state who was on the same side as the US in Syria and in other conflicts.
Now though, a lot has changed. Turkey has withdrawn its support for anti-government forces in Syria and has stated clearly that it regards America’s arming of Kurdish militants in Syria as a threat to Turkish security. On top of this, Turkey now is on the verge of cooperating with Iran, the country every American president since 1979 has loved to hate.
America already shelters one Turkish opposition figure, the Islamist extremist Fethullah Gulen. Turkey considers Gulen the leader of a terrorist group but America still refuses to extradite him to Turkey in spite of technically being a NATO ally.
Could America be planning to exploit Gulen’s organisation or other less than peaceful opposition figures in Turkey, including but not limited to Gulfi funded Salaist terrorists in order to intentionally sow tensions in Turkey? Could America be trying to do the same with the PKK? These are the questions which now bear serious scrutiny among all those concealed with the stability of the Middle East and western Eurasia.
The fear for many in Turkey is that America has already turned against them without even having the decency to declare their actual position. The less America says about Turkey, the more average Turks should pay attention to what is not being said.