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    From Syria to S-400: US Trying to Dictate Turkey’s Actions – Analysts

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    The US is openly demonstrating its dissatisfaction with Ankara's strategy in Syria and its rapprochement with Moscow, Turkish analysts told Sputnik. Commenting on US threats to impose sanctions on Ankara over its purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems, analysts noted that Washington's previous embargo on Turkey didn't work.

    Washington is trying to dictate what Ankara should do in Syria, Turkish analysts told Sputnik, commenting on a statement made by Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, following his meeting with Turkish President Recep Erdogan on July 4.

    "I tried to make the case that you want America in Syria because the outcomes of us leaving are not good," Graham told reporters. "You don't want any further incursions in Syria by the Turkish military, you'll get yourself in a quagmire."

    According to Turkish political analyst Ozdemir Akbal, Graham's remarks have come as no surprise given his ardent support to the People's Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

    "Republican Lindsay Graham has been a member of the US Senate for 15 years maintaining close contacts with American expert strategic centers," Akbal said. "Graham's statement can be interpreted as a warning to the Turkish authorities not to interfere more in Syrian affairs, leaving this 'springboard' to the US."

    However, the political analyst believes that if Ankara takes strategically correct steps it will manage to overcome the US opposition on the PYD issue. To accomplish this task, Turkey needs to thoroughly calculate its strategic steps following talks between the American and Russian delegations.

    According to Akbal, Graham is using "the favorite American method of exerting pressure and imposing one's will through issuing threats underhandedly."

    Fighters from the Kurdish People Protection Unit (YPG)
    © AFP 2018 / DELIL SOULEIMAN
    Fighters from the Kurdish People Protection Unit (YPG)

    US Threats Against Turkey Evoke Memories of 1974 Embargo

    For his part, Naim Baburoglu, retired Turkish general, military strategist and academic at Istanbul Aydin University (IAU), looks at Graham's remarks from a broader perspective.

    "On June 26, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell said that the purchase of Ankara Russian S-400 [air defense systems] can lead to the imposition of sanctions against Turkey," Baburoglu recalled.

    He noted that earlier, on June 21, Senator Chris Van Hollen proposed an amendment to "suspend the sale of the F-35 stealth fighters to Ankara until it abandons the purchase of Russian systems."

    "I support the transfer of F-35 advanced aircraft to Turkey, but not if they proceed with the acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system," Van Hollen said, claiming that "Turkey's acquisition of both systems would allow the Russians to more easily evaluate the capabilities of the F-35 and detect and exploit its vulnerabilities."

    Van Hollen's amendment was sponsored by the chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Lindsey Graham, and Senator James Lankford.

    "These successive statements by the US authorities indicate the US's dissatisfaction with the Turkish-Russian rapprochement," Baburoglu highlighted.

    Commenting on the US's threats to impose sanctions on Turkey, the retired general noted that "the last time such an embargo was imposed by the US against Turkey was during the events in Cyprus in 1974."

    On July 20, 1974, Turkey kicked off Operation Attila and invaded the island country of Cyprus following the Cypriot coup d'état on July 15, reportedly instigated by a Greek military junta, also known as the Regime of the Colonels.

    "The restrictions had lasted for four years, however, despite this, the Turkish government managed to successfully complete the Cyprus operation. This example is important, because today we see signs of an impending repetition of such actions by the US," Baburoglu opined.

    Kurdish Withdrawal From Manbij Raises Questions

    Yet another bone of contention between Ankara and Washington is their agreement on Manbij, the military strategist noted, referring to Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria that lasted from January 20, 2018, to March 24, 2018.

    "Presumably, there were from 5,000 to 7,000 militants of PYD, YPG and PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party, outlawed] in Manbij," he pointed out. "The Kurdish formations had to surrender weapons and retreat east of the Euphrates River as part of the agreement struck by Turkey and the US. However, recently, the Manbij Military Council announced that 'the YPG removed the remaining 12 military advisers' from the city."

    According to the retired general, it raises the question as to what has happened to the 5,000-7,000 YPG fighters who were earlier deployed in Manbij, since it remains unclear whether they left the city, laid down arms or simply mixed with the local population. However, Washington remains tight-lipped about the Kurdish withdrawal from Manbij, he underscored.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speakers do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    manipulation, threats, sanctions, F-35 Lightning II, S-400, The Syrian war, Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Turkey, Syria, United States, Russia
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