BRUSSELS (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 16th October, 2019) By launching an offensive in Syria against Kurdish militias, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again antagonized his allies, this time on both sides of the Atlantic.
Ankara warned several times that it would cross into north Syria if the United Sates failed to implement their joint agreements on a "safe zone" in the border region. The world, however, still looked caught off guards when the military operation started on October 9.
Having denounced the Turkish move as a "bad idea," the United States has swiftly started limiting its presence in the area to a small special forces group to prevent any incidents between the two NATO militaries. By doing so, the United States has effectively abandoned its Kurdish allies, which have been instrumental in defeating the Islamic State terror group (IS, banned in Russia) in Syria.
On Monday, the US authorized sanctions against senior Turkish officials and entities, including the ministries of energy and defense.
Speaking of this decision with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Berlin had been taking a very restrictive line on arms exports to Turkey since the 2016 failed coup and, particularly, after Ankara's military operation in Syria's Afrin in 2018.
The Council of the EU agreed on Monday that a special working group would meet later this week to review the member states' stance on arms deliveries to Turkey.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, however, said back on Sunday that whatever Europe did, "whether an arms embargo or something else," Ankara would "not relent" in its fight against Kurdish militias, whom it brands as terrorists.
President Erdogan further stoked tensions by warning that he could very well "open doors" for 3.6 million Syrian refugees to cross into Europe if the latter did not show any understanding of Turkey's security concerns on the border with Syria.
"These unimaginable sums come for the most part from German taxpayers' money. In return, the Turkish ruler holds the largest army in Europe, raises territorial claims against Greece, Syria and Iraq and now even wages a brutal war of aggression against the Kurdish civilian population in northern Syria," Bystron argued.
On Friday, US troops even came under Turkish artillery fire in the vicinity of Kobane, an area "known by the Turks to have US forces present," according to the US Defense Department. None were injured, however.
It is, meanwhile, not the first time when Turkey has been seriously at odds with the rest of the bloc.
"The Secretary General of NATO is very embarrassed and tries to hide the widening gap between Turkey and the rest of the Alliance. Not only did Turkey provoke the NATO Allies by acquiring Russia's S-400 long-range air defence missiles, which made the Americans refuse to consider anymore the equipment of Turkey with the latest generation of the American fighter-bombers, the F-35," Brussels-based military expert Pierre Henrot told Sputnik.
"Following the NATO treaty, all members must come to the help of any of the members when attacked. It is article 5 of the Atlantic charter. Can you imagine if Turkey declared it is attacked by the Kurdish 'terrorists' and asked officially the activation of Article 5? With NATO planes over the Syrian border, where Russian fighters are cruising? The situation would be explosive, to say the least," he opined.
WILL SYRIA FINALLY EMERGE AS WINNER?
Gilles Lebreton, a European Parliament member from France's right-wing National Rally, agrees that NATO "could very well enter its worst crisis in its history" amid the row around the Turkish offensive.
"By abandoning its Kurdish allies, the United States loses its military credibility. This will unfortunately revive the EU's plan to create an integrated European army. I wonder how the EU will do to continue linking its non-existent 'integrated European army' to NATO," Lebreton told Sputnik.
Further dwelling on possible repercussions, Lebreton suggested that Syria and Russia might ultimately win from the current situation, given that Damascus and the Kurds seem to have joined forces to repel the Turkish incursion.
"Russia is the clear winner of the diplomatic repercussions of this 'conflict in a conflict.' I expect that the Russian Federation will favour Syria's defence, its staunch ally in the region to its relations with Turkey, because it is Russia's interest to show its loyalty to its ally, in contrast with the attitude of the United States, and also to prevent the revival of vitality of Daesh [IS]," he opined.