The United States and Turkey reach an agreement on northern Syria


Turkey and the United States reached an agreement this week for the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces from the Manbij City, in northern Syria. The agreement was announced after a meeting between Melvut Cavusoglu, chancellor of Turkey and the USA secretariat of State Mike Pompeo.
By Romerito Pontes.
The Turkish authorities announced a calendar to withdraw Kurdish forces from Manbij. In the meantime, the North Americans did not verify the existence of a date established for this, which suggests there was no agreement on the time limit.
Manbij is located in Northeast Syria, next to the frontier with Turkey and it has around 100,000 inhabitants. In 2012, during the Syrian Revolution, it came to be controlled by the Free Army of Syria. In 2014, it was taken by the Daesh (self-denominated Islamic State), and in 2016 it was re-taken by the Syrian Democratic Forces. Since then, the city has been under control of the Kurdish militias called People’s Protection Unit (YPG), which are part of the coalition.

Ankara’s Interests

For the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the city is strategic for at least three reasons. The first is the fact that Turkey received many Syrian refugees since the beginning of the conflict. It is estimated that the country received in total three million refugees from the neighbor country. The Kurdish control over the city would be an impediment for the return of part of these people. Mainly the poorest part of the refugees who suffer pressure to return, since the Turkish government granted citizenship to those with higher education and professional specialization.
The second reason is the conflict itself, involving Turkey and the Kurdish who vindicated for themselves the formation of an autonomous State –Kurdistan-, which would take on control of an important part of lands today under Ankara’s control.
Therefore, before Turkish eyes, the Kurdish are a separatist movement. Even the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is considered a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, which accuses the YPG of being a PKK agency.
Last, but not least, the agreement has influence on the presidential elections next June 24. Erdogan is leading with 48%.
One must consider that Turkey is living a “state of emergency” since the coup attempt in June 2016. At the time, the government accused Fethullah Gülen of having led a conspiracy from the United States, where he lives. As part of this agreement, Ankara attempted to negotiate Fethullah’s extradition, but they were not successful.

Pressure from the Arms Industry

For the United States, there seem to be two reasons for the agreement. First, Turkey acquired one hundred units of F-35, a military aircraft. The first lot will be handed in on the 21. In the meantime, the Ankara government has also shown interest in acquiring S-400 units, an anti-aerial missile system of Russian origin. Before this, American congressmen are worried about the possibility of the acquisition of the United States’ fighter aircraft to supply information for the development of the Russian anti-aerial system. It is speculated that Washington pressured Turkey not to close the agreement with the Russians, threatening to suspend the parts supply and maintenance for the aircraft fighters.
Besides, commentators speculate the USA-Turkey agreement may be part of an isolation policy for Iran in the region. The USA withdrew unilaterally this year from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), a sort of international agreement on the development of the Iran nuclear program, and Israel bombed Iran positions in Syria in May. With this, the USA attempts to restrain the Russian influence in the region.

Meeting of the Russian, Turkish and Iranian Presidents

Imperialist Hypocrisy

Nonetheless, the agreement is simple diplomatic rhetoric and political hypocrisy. Beginning with the fact that the very Kurdish militias of the YPG – which have a non-aggression pact with the dictator Assad – are supported by the USA, since they are part of the coalition supported by Washington against the Bashar dictatorship in Syria. Even when they negotiate this withdrawal, the USA will maintain its influence over the positions to the East of the Euphrates River, and with this controlling a series of oil fields.
The negotiation of the positions in Manbij with Turkey show there is not commitment with the end of war in Syria, with the refugees or the stability of the region. On the contrary, they use the conflict as part of the negotiations in the arms market, and to gain advantages from the division of the regional conflict, to maintain political influence over the region and the economic interest in the oil fields of North Syria.
It is not possible to rely on North American imperialist support, and this could not be different. However, this does not mean that, to fight their influence, one must support the Damasco regime and Russia. They are both taking economic and political profit from the conflict, and they have no commitment with the Syrian people. The solution for the conflict will not come from any of them.
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