U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is expected to fly to Turkey over the weekend in an attempt to avoid a possible military confrontation with the country over Syria. Turkey has thrown the weight of its military behind Syria which is fighting U.S. supported Kurdish militia forces.
Washington considers the YPG (People’s Protection Units) Syrian Kurdish a key ally in the war against the Islamic State. The Turkish government has linked the militia with an on-going Kurdish insurgency by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Meylut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey accused the United States of colluding with Islamic State militants. According to a nationwide poll, only three percent of Turks trust the U.S.
Turkey ignored warnings from the U.S. and attacked the YPD Kurdish militia in Afrin. The Turkish government is threatening to expand its military operations to Manbij where U.S. forces are entrenched with the YPG.
McMaster’s efforts to avert a confrontation with Turkey may be affected by reports coming out of Washington that U.S. generals fully supported the operations of the YPG at Manbij. The officers were also quoted as saying any attack on YPG would be strongly opposed.
These comments have further inflamed tensions with the Turkish government which it has further accused of reneging on commitments made regarding Washington’s position with the YPG.
How should the two NATO allies resolve the conflict?
Sinan Ulgen from Carnegie Europe believes McMaster needs to work on building trust with Turkey:
“There is still time for Washington and Ankara to find common ground to eliminate the prospect of a direct conflict. And I would say primarily to try to find an actionable agenda that would start to recreate trust between the two parties.
For instance, I suggest a dialogue on the humanitarian dimensions of this conflict and primarily the U.S. and Turkey working together to establish a humanitarian corridor for the civilians who are caught in this conflict.”
However some analysts are of the opinion that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s incendiary rhetoric versus the United States and his open support of continued support for Syria’s military forces has made the situation almost unstable.
There are growing rumours that Erdogan may call for an early presidential and general election this year so he can exploit the current wave of nationalism and anti- U.S. sentiment that has taken over Turkey.