15:06 GMT20 September 2020
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    Turkish leaders appear to be making every effort to solicit Washington's support for a ground operation in Syria that, if launched, would officially be aimed at assisting refugees or tackling Daesh, but would in fact be used to prevent local Kurdish fighters from scoring victories against terrorists in the area along the Syrian-Turkish border.

    Yet Barack Obama urged Recep Tayyip Erdogan to refrain from taking any drastic action against the Syrian Kurds in an 80-minute telephone conversation on Friday following a bombing attack, which claimed the lives of 28 people in Ankara.

    "Obama has a far more acute sense than most other politicians about the ease with which the US, or any other foreign power intervening in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, can become plugged into local confrontations and disputes," Irish journalist Patrick Cockburn explained.

    Turkey and Saudi Arabia have both stated that they are ready to send ground troops to the war-torn Arab country if Washington gives the initiative a go. Some say that those are verbal threats that will not be followed by a real campaign, but Cockburn is not fully convinced.

    "Turkish and Saudi policy on Syria has hitherto been full of threats and bombast, but it is dangerously mercurial and some form of military action cannot be ruled out, even if it is opposed by the US or Russia," he observed.

    Tanks stationed at a Turkish army position near the Oncupinar crossing gate close to the town of Kilis, south central Turkey, fire towards the Syria border, on February 16, 2016.
    © AFP 2020 / BULENT KILIC
    Tanks stationed at a Turkish army position near the Oncupinar crossing gate close to the town of Kilis, south central Turkey, fire towards the Syria border, on February 16, 2016.

    Indeed, the Turkish army continued to shell the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) across the border with Syria. The shelling, decried by Russia as "unacceptable," was launched on February 13 in what Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called a retaliatory measure.

    The United States has backed the Kurds in Iraq and Syria in their fight against Daesh and, according to Cockburn, "would be loath to give up its military alliance with the Syrian Kurds." One of the reasons has to do with Turkey's porous border with Syria.

    Despite promises, Ankara has repeatedly failed to seal the border, which Daesh and other extremist groups have used to smuggle weapons, fighters and supplies to the Syrian battlefield. As a result, Washington has enlisted the YPG support to cut terrorists' supply routes on the southern, Syrian side. This task is now close to being completed.

    Whatever Ankara's stance on the Syrian Kurds is, Erdogan or Davutoglu do not seem to be the key stakeholders when it comes to the Syrian conflict.

    "Americans and Russians are today crucial military players in Syria and it is becoming too late for Turkey and Saudi Arabia to buck the trend successfully, though this does not prove that they will not try to do so," Cockburn asserted.

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    Tags:
    Kurds, Syrian conflict, Barack Obama, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia, Syria, Turkey, United States
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