Moscow’s support for the YPG/PKK undermines trust in Ankara

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The measures taken by Russia last week in northern Syria have not escaped Turkey.

First, there have been reports that Russia is stepping up its military presence along the borders to areas east of the Euphrates which are under US control and where the Syrian branch of the PKK is located. , the YPG.

Second, a delegation led by Ilham Ahmed, one of the YPG leaders, is to travel to Moscow for talks, the Kurdish media network Rudaw reported on Monday.

The latest development indicates an increase in Russian military mobility in the Syrian domain, especially recently, due to the possibility of a Turkish operation.

In fact, Russian military units have begun patrolling the demarcation line between areas controlled by US-led coalition forces and Russian forces in eastern Syria, Russian officials said Monday.

Russian forces had replaced US troops as they withdrew from some bases after the launch of Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring on October 9, 2019 against YPG terrorists in northeast Syria.

Since then, Russia has steadily intensified its military presence east of the Euphrates, including in areas under YPG control, increasing the number of its military bases and posts.

There are currently 18 Russian military bases and posts in YPG-controlled areas east of the Euphrates, namely in Hassakeh, Raqqa, Manbij and Ain al-Arab (Kobani) in Aleppo.

However, despite all this, Moscow has remained very reluctant to prevent YPG/PKK attacks on Turkish-controlled areas due to agreements with Ankara.

One of the main reasons for Russia’s show of force in areas east of the Euphrates might be that it wants to send a message to Washington regarding the Ukraine issue. Washington’s attempts to block the Kremlin through NATO, which has been watching the tension between Moscow and Kyiv closely lately, are also being watched closely.

In other words, it raises the possibility that Moscow will pursue a balance of power policy by increasing its military presence in the Middle East, especially in the face of tensions in the Black Sea.

In fact, it is not surprising from this point of view that Moscow, on the one hand, is building its military fortifications, while, on the other hand, it is intensifying its political negotiations with the representatives of the terrorist group in order to safeguard its interests in the Middle East, particularly Syria.

With these talks with the YPG/PKK, Russia also wants to keep on its side the representatives of the terrorist group, which works closely with the United States. But it would be a great lack of foresight on the part of Moscow to assume that this game will not ultimately anger Turkey, the region’s other most important player.

In this sense, the only difference between the United States and Russia is that, while the former admits to providing political support, the latter denies the allegations that it provides weapons to support the terrorist organization.

However, this claim will also be refuted. Because terrorist attacks against civilians in areas under the control of Turkish forces use advanced heavy weapons such as TOW missiles, Katyusha and Grad missiles and multi-barreled rocket launchers as well as rocket launchers and mortars American and Russian made.

Rudaw reported on Monday, and Moscow did not confirm until Wednesday, that a delegation led by Ilham Ahmed had visited Moscow for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

Of course, it would not be hard to guess that the most important topics on the agenda are the relationship between the PKK terrorist organization and the Russian-backed Assad regime, and Turkey’s possible new operation in the northern Syria.

In addition, as a result of these negotiations, Russia will also try to assess whether the terrorist organization is closer and more loyal to Russia or the United States.

Meanwhile, the United States and Europe continue to support the PKK and its offshoots, although the PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey and the European Union, but not by Russia.

Apart from the fact that Moscow does not consider the PKK a terrorist organization, it even allowed the terrorist organization to open an office in its country.

If we recall, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remarked on his return from Sochi on September 29, his last trip to Russia, that he said he had personally expressed his discomfort with this policy of Moscow to his interlocutor, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Erdoğan expressed his concerns about the YPG/PKK presence in Moscow and told Putin that the two countries should further strengthen their cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

In light of all these developments, if Moscow continues its current policy of “we don’t supply weapons to the PKK, but we will continue to work together, we don’t consider it a terrorist organization”, we will see its negative consequences for Turkey – Relations with Russia.

If Russia wants to settle accounts with the United States on the Black Sea – especially on the Ukrainian question – by helping a terrorist organization already supported by its rival, this strategy would be a miss.

Moreover, if Moscow wants to keep the upper hand in the new geopolitical equation of the Caucasus, Africa and Eurasia, by aligning itself with Turkey, it should start by designating the PKK/YPG as a terrorist organization.

Thus, Moscow should abandon its outdated 1990s policy of supporting the PKK. Otherwise, Russia could face negative consequences in a wider geography if it insists on using the terrorist organization’s extensions in Syria as leverage to achieve a balance of power with the United States.

While it is obvious that Turkey and Russia maintain the principle of not stepping on each other’s toes in Africa and the Caucasus, which has turned into a win-win situation for everyone, Moscow’s inability to account for these strategic losses due to possible support for the terrorist organization and to accommodate them in the capital would eclipse the sophisticated dimensions of its foreign policy.

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