Ankara is trying to make Moscow and Tehran its allies in confrontation against Washington, said Gönül Tol, founding director of The Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies said in an article in the National Interest Magazine.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said last week he doubted Washington’s arms supplies to the Syrian Kurdish forces were for fighting against ISIS. “It means you have calculations against Turkey and Iran, and maybe Russia,” he said.
Tol said this way Erdoğan was trying to “galvanise a common front of anti-U.S. sentiment” in three guarantor-states of the peace process in Syria and improve relations with Moscow and Tehran regarding his military operation in the North of Syria and the lack of success in stabilizing the situation in rebel-controlled Idlib zone.
“Russia is frustrated with Turkey’s failure to roll back the al Qaeda–linked Hayat Tahrir al Sham’s influence in Idlib while Iran and the (Syrian President Bashar) Assad regime have grown increasingly uncomfortable with Turkey’s move into Afrin,” she said.
Turkey’s growing isolation, according to Tol, is worrying Erdoğan as well. “He also hopes this will keep the pressure on Washington at a time when Turkish and U.S. forces might clash in Syria,” said the expert. The Turkish leader understands the country “cannot take on Russia and the United States at the same time,” she added.
“If (Erdoğan) manages to ease tensions with Russia, Ankara will be less interested in what Secretary Tillerson has to offer to prevent a Turkish incursion into Manbij.”