08:36 GMT18 January 2021
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    Turkey is not targeting Kurds in Syria but protecting them from the tyranny and oppression of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party terror group, according to Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. This comes as US National Security Adviser John Bolton arrived in Ankara for talks about US troops withdrawing from Syria.

    Sputnik has discussed the talks with Dr Huseyin Bagci, the chair of the international relations department at Ankara's Middle East Technical University.

    Sputnik: Bolton is travelling to Turkey to discuss the Syria pullout. Given the pre-condition that Kurdish militias should be protected, how could the two parties reconcile their visions?

    Dr Huseyin Bagci: I think the reconciliation will be a difficult one for both sides. Mr Bolton is already in Ankara and the American decision to pull out is an important decision but the Americans also stated that they will protect the Kurdish groups against any possible Turkish military intervention. And probably the Turkish side will continue to stress that the PKK, YPG are sister organisations and Turkey considers these organisations as anti-Turkish organisations and as speaker Ibrahim Kalin stated, the fight is not against the Kurds in general but against these organisations.

    READ MORE: Erdogan Says Only Turkey Can Protect US Interests in Syria Amid Troop Pullout

    How the Americans will accept this is another issue. Probably, there will be hard negotiations concerning the name, there could be some changes, some new plans, but the coming of Mr Bolton to Ankara is important. How to organise the American pullout from this region without any Turkish military intervention probably in the north of Syria.

    Sputnik: Yes everything you've just said testifies to the fact that the negotiations are going to be very difficult because, of course, we know Turkey's position has been very inflexible regarding the PKK and regarding the Kurds, how high are the chances there's going to be concessions from one of the sides?

    Dr Huseyin Bagci: I do not expect any confrontation between Turkey and America in the foreseeable future in this respect. Therefore, the different interpretations will continue not only with Americans but also with Russia. Turkey has several different interpretations, different views. The question is here what the Americans really want to do. If the Americans want to continue to stress the YPG is the supporter or the protector of the Kurds in Syria than the Turkish side would not make the concessions that the Americans expect.

    Either YPG is changing the name or denies the common activities with PKK. I'm talking about the possible concession topics for the Turkish government. But the name YPG or PKK is so sensitive in Turkey probably domestic policy-wise government would stress to the Americans that somehow the fight is not against the Kurds in the region but I against the organizations. How the Americans find a solution to these organisations' names remains to be seen.

    Sputnik: Of course, ever since Donald Trump announced openly the intention of the United States to pull out its troops from Syria everyone has been wondering if this is going to actually happen in the foreseeable future because we had heard similar talk of withdrawal from Afghanistan, of course, we know how that went. What's the likelihood that the disagreement regarding the Kurdish issue could actually postpone the US withdrawal from Syria for quite a long time?

    Dr Huseyin Bagci: I consider the American position in Syria or in Iraq, and altogether it is a matter of honour for Americans to protect the Kurds. It goes back to Woodrow Wilson's principles from 1918. So I think the Americans will stay in the region. They will not pull out as soon as possible. What Donald Trump stated last week was a decision, which was not consulted enough probably with Foreign Ministry and Defence Ministry and now Donald Trump is becoming also more and more classical politician. He says something first then he realises that it is wrong and now withdraws his decision.

    READ MORE: US Syria Withdrawal Must Be Planned in Cooperation With Right Partners — Erdogan

    So he is on the way to be a politician from a businessman to a politician. We will see this, but the American withdrawal from Afghanistan or from this area in Syria it will be very difficult for Americans, geostrategically speaking, or in the ground strategy of America. The Middle East cannot be left over to any other regional power or any other country. So I think Donald Trump will revisit his decision and probably the Americans will stay there; also trying to get any confirmation from the Turkish administration that the Syrian Kurds, civilians in particular, are not somehow affected by any possible military operation.

    Sputnik: So am I correct in thinking and understanding that you think that despite what President Trump said there's really not going to be any particular changes to the US military policy?

    Dr Huseyin Bagci: Exactly, I don't expect the American military withdrawal from Syria, from the Middle East at all. Americans will it remain there. And the early decisions of Donald Trump will be revisited, corrected, and then the American military will probably tell him that it's in the American strategic interest to remain there as military presence; that the American soldiers are not withdrawn.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr Huseyin Bagci and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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


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