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US Trying to Use Syria as a Garrison for Operations in Middle East, Scholar Says

© REUTERS / Omar SanadikiPeople walk near a Syrian national flag at the President bridge in Damascus, Syria March 14, 2016
People walk near a Syrian national flag at the President bridge in Damascus, Syria March 14, 2016 - Sputnik International
While Turkey has begun an operation against the Kurds in the Syrian city of Afrin and the US recently announced plans to continue its military commitment in the Middle Eastern country, Radio Sputnik discussed the developments with Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar from Kultuk University in Istanbul.

Sputnik: Turkey is saying that the operation is within the boundaries of a right to self-defense and also within the framework of international law. Do you agree with that?

Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar: Of course, I agree with that because, you know, in the city I live, in Istanbul, there were many terrorist attacks last in 2016. And we know that this organization [the PKK] was behind it. Turkey needs to protect its borders, and also Turkey didn't get diplomatic support from allies and, you know, we can also call Russia an ally for Turkey, especially in Syria. So, this is a big problem, and Turkey has to deal with this issue. And it seems that Afrin would be one of the reasons why Turkey considers that it's facing terrorist attacks. Afrin is one of the bases of the PYD/PKK, so from the Turkish point of view, this is legitimate.

Sputnik: The US and Turkey have had extremely strained relations for the past few years. How is that going to play into this situation?

Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar: In none of the major issues Turkey and the United States are on the same page, especially for the last decade, we can say. The situation in Iraq, the Kurdish issue, the coup attempt in Turkey — Turkey believes that the person behind it is in the United States and they have affiliation with US intelligence — also the Jerusalem issue, Syria, in many issues and major problems Turkey, and Russia, and the US don't have common goals. They are rivals actually, we can say this easily. But they are both [Turkey and the US] NATO partners, Turkey was part of the Western security system for decades. So this is a big issue. And when it comes to Syria, Turkey is trying to keep the territorial integrity of Syria, trying to keep its borders safe, while the US (and this is my personal opinion) is looking for a garrison state in the eastern part of the Euphrates River. They are trying to build a statelet to use it as a garrison for further operations in the Middle East against Iran, Turkey, Syria, Iraq. This is an important foothold, so I think in this case, again, Turkey and the US have problems, and they will have more problems if the US keeps supporting the PYD and other groups that Turkey considers terrorist organizations.

Sputnik: What can be done to resolve the situation between Turkey, the US and Russia in Syria?

Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar: It's a very difficult task. I think right now, for geopolitical and strategic reasons Turkey and Russia are getting closer because, you know, they feel the same threat from the United States, especially when it comes to the Middle East and the territorial integrity of the countries like Syria and Iraq.

Sputnik: Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov said that the US is not interested in keeping Syria's territorial integrity. What's your take on that?

Prof. Dr. Bora Bayraktar: I totally agree with Mr. Lavrov, because what the United States did last week, you know, they declared that there will be a 30,000 man force that will protect the borders of Syria which is the violation of Syrian territorial integrity, violation of Syrian sovereignty. And as I told you, they are looking for a garrison state in Syria, and this is not acceptable for any country in the region. And I think Mr. Lavrov has a reason for saying that. Although the US Secretary of State Tillerson and a spokesman from Pentagon denied this claim, they said "ok, we are not looking for an extra army." But when we look at the actions, not the words, we see that the United States is trying to cut a piece of Syria for their use, and this is not acceptable.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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