Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that he cannot accept US National Security Adviser John Bolton's remarks on Syria. Erdogan reiterated that Ankara cannot compromise on the issue of the Kurdish YPG militia.
Sputnik discussed the withdrawal of US forces from Syria with Dr. Kerim Has, a political analyst specialising in Turkish-Russian relations and international affairs.
Sputnik: Turkey's Foreign Minister has just announced that Ankara would launch a military operation against the Kurds if the United States fails to withdraw troops on time. Do you think this could result in significant delays in the actual pullout of US troops from the region?
Kerim Has: It's hard to believe that the United States is going to fully withdraw from Syria; and probably the withdrawal process will extend for at least a few months. Even before the announcement of the Foreign Minister of Turkey, I didn't think that the US withdrawal would start soon and would be completed in the following weeks. So, in this sense, it's just a typical political announcement of Turkey just to persuade the American side to stop their relations with the pro-Kurdish YPG force, which is number one enemy of Turkey in Syria, actually.
Sputnik: What is the likelihood of a large-scale military action by Turkey against the Kurds in Syria after Washington withdraws its forces? In the past few days, President Erdogan has said several times that they are ready for military action; do you think this is going to happen?
Kerim Has: In fact, I think a large-scale military operation is not on the agenda of Turkey in the following weeks, but establishing some buffer zones along the border in Northeastern Syria seems possible. I think during Bolton's visit to Ankara this issue was discussed, mainly. And for that also the United States has conditions for Turkish officials and one of them was to prevent a direct clash between the Turkish Army and the YPG forces, and maybe to open a corridor, probably 300 kilometres deep into Syria, to promote the Turkish Army with their fight against ISIS* (Daesh). In that sense they discussed the issue of a military operation, but probably it won't turn into a clash between the Turkish Army and the YPG forces. Maybe there will be established some buffer zones along the border between Turkey and the Kurdish forces, which are, as I've already mentioned, recognised by Turkey as terrorist organisations. Instead of that, some corridor will be opened for the fight against ISIS. I think the Turkish side is also negotiating the issue with the Russians, to get some permission to use the airspace in Syria to coordinate their efforts with Russia. So, probably, negotiations on every level are still continuing.
Kerim Has: In my opinion, the Syrian case or the Syrian problem in Turkish-American relations is also very much related with, for example, Turkey's rapprochement with Russia and also with the purchasing of S-400 missile systems from Moscow. There're also some other issues that are related with the Syrian case — the YPG forces, Kurdish autonomy, if it happens in Syria, and what the premises of such autonomy would be if it happens. So, all of them are interconnected problems and still not only couldn't Turkey reach an agreement with the US, but also Turkey couldn't reach a common point with the Russian side on this issue about the Kurds because, as you know, these Kurdish forces are not recognized as terrorist organisations by Russia. So, probably, in the following months the issue will be solved; maybe not solved but maybe it will turn into much bigger regional chaos if large-scale military operations are launched by the Turkish side. Because a terrorist threat in Idlib can leap from Syria to Turkish territory; other security risks are coming from Syria to Turkey. They are all interconnected and as I said, the relations of Turkey and Russia are also angering the American side, so a possible deal of Turkey with the US on Kurds and on the Syrian issue in general is very much dependent on Turkish-Russian relations, I think.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.