In one of my previous posts, I stated that Turkey was one of the most geostrategic pivots in the world. That is true. This geostrategic pivot gives Turkey immense power and advantages vis a vis any power outside the region of the Balkans, Bosporus, Black Sea, and the Middle East.
In the year 2018, it is asserting its power to impose its will on the Kurdish enclave of North Syria to the Iraqi border; this means Turkish confrontation with the US.
Turkey is totally opposed to the US policy in Syria. The US wants to partition Syria, not because it is a threat to the US, which it is not, but because it would enable Israel to expand into both Lebanon and Syria. It would thereby obtain the waters of Lebanon.
Turkey considers the US presence in Syria and Iraq a threat to Turkish security and independence. Turkey has a large Kurdish population, up to 30,000,000 people in its South East Region. There are about 3,000,000 in Syria and Iraq respectively; approximately 3,000,000 in Iran. ( Actually, Kurds are scattered all over the Middle East. ) Kemal Ataturk was a Kurd. He defeated the British at the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915, in the 1st World War. Churchill was eager to conquer Constantinople for the British, and not to help the Russians as claimed by the British. Kemal Ataturk developed very close relations between Turkey and the new country of the USSR.
A large Kurdish State in the Fertile Crescent would mean the end of Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. A Kurdish state allied to Israel would dominate the Middle East. Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon want to prevent this scenario; most of the Islamic world is against such a scheme.
What now? Turkey means business. It is prepared to face the US in Syria, possibly in Iraq as well. Confrontation is inevitable. It depends on what scale, but it will be on big scale. Let us analyze.
The US will not leave Syria. It will leave only if forced. Turkey will not back off. All of Turkey is upset with the US. Both countries are members of NATO, but the US runs NATO. What the US says goes. That has been the internal relationship of the organization since its inception in 1949. Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, a faithful US ally in the Korean War,1950-53. Since a failed coup d’état of July 15, 2016, the US/Turkish relationship has been very strained. Turkey has abandoned a policy of subservience to the US and chosen a policy of national interest and independence. National interests of Turkey are in direct conflict with US strategy. The policy of restraints on Turkey that the US is pursuing only irritates Turkey even more.
Before a complete rupture occurs, the US will try another coup d’état. If it succeeds, Turkey will go back to the NATO stable, and the US will again have a subservient Turkey and will be able to create Kurdistan in Syria. However, the coup may not succeed.
What is evident in this struggle is that Turkey is not afraid. Turkey is an advanced economy. It has powerful armed forces. Turkey may be in possession of nuclear weapons which gives it a nuclear back bone to face any opponent, including the US. The West was hoping to start a Russo-Turkish war after the Turks shot down a Russian jet in Syria on November 24, 2015; it did not succeed.
If Turkey goes all the way to conquer Syrian Kurdish region, it will inevitably come in conflict with the US special forces advising the Kurds. If the US sustains casualties, the US will respond and open conflict will occur. The Turks will not back off. Neither will the US. The conflict will enlarge. If no armistice is reached, both sides will pour troops into the conflict. NATO will be in a dilemma. Many NATO members would refuse to join the US vs. Turkey conflagration; NATO would break. The Islamic World would side with Turkey, and the Third World War could break out.
Short of a general nuclear war between the US and Russia, the US-Turkish War would severely damage the world’s economy, let alone cause massive environmental and structural damage to the world. The consequences would be unpredictable; we will see