​​​​​​​Michael Rubin: Russia insulted Turkey, America will not be part of Erdogan's chaos

Reportaj Summay

​​​​​​​Michael Rubin: Russia insulted Turkey, America will not be part of Erdogan's chaos
12 March 2020   03:22

Michael Rubin emphasized that the Americans, except for Trump and Jeffrey, realize that Turkey enables "ISIS" and said: "There can be no victory against terrorism as long as Erdogan remains responsible for Turkey," explaining that Russia recently insulted Turkey and that it was not in America's interest to be part of Erdogan's mess.
Syria has witnessed important developments at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. On the one hand, Trump announced the withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria, which opened the way for Turkey to occupy the cities of Serêkaniyê and Girê Spî / Tel Abyad, while Russia and Turkey entered into a conflict in Idlib governorate.

In this context, our agency held a meeting with the researcher at the American Project Institute for Public Politics Research (AEI) and Pentagon former official Michael Rubin regarding the U.S. strategy in Syria after its withdrawal and its position on the recent Putin-Erdogan agreement and Ankara's relationship with ISIS and al-Qaeda in northern Syria; the text of the dialogue is as follows:

What is the real American strategy in Syria?

President Trump's goal remains to leave Syria, but many American policymakers—including among his top advisors—understand the strategic importance of remaining. They want to block an Iranian supply route to the Eastern Mediterranean and, with the exception of both Trump himself and Ambassador James Jeffrey, all foreign policy and intelligence professionals understand that Turkey enables the Islamic State and is disinterested in fighting it or Al Qaeda. After the infamous Erdogan-Trump phone call and the sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces, retired General Jack Keane convinced Trump to “defend the oil fields” in Syria in order to stop a complete withdrawal. It's a stupid reason—especially given all the other strategic and moral reasons for the U.S. to remain involved—but it was the argument that worked with Trump.

How do you evaluate the Russian-Turkish agreement on Idlib and the American position on it?

Russia humiliated Turkey. Erdogan has long seen himself as Putin's equal, but Putin showed Erdogan to be little more than his servant. The way Putin forced Erdogan to travel to Moscow, the manner he kept Erdogan waiting outside the meeting room, and the fact that Erdogan returned with nothing is truly embarrassing. In effect, Russia and the Syrian regime are now on top inside Syria, and Turkey can only operate in Syrian territories that Putin approves.

As for the United States, Washington has no obligation to help Turkey outside Turkey's borders. Turkey invaded Syria, not the other way around. Turkey is the aggressor and the U.S. government has made clear it has no interest in being part of Erdogan's mess.

How do you evaluate the Turkish role in Syria, the effect of this on the United States' fight against terrorism?

Turkey is more interested in revising the terms of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne than it is in fighting terror. It's invasion of northern Syria was meant more to ethnically cleanse Syrian Kurds and replace them with Arabs than it was to fight terror. Turkey is also against Kurdish self-government in Syria. The difference between Syrian Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdistan is that Syrian Kurdish authorities were creating a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional government model, whereas Iraqi Kurdish leaders have effectively subordinated their ethnic and cultural freedom to the business interests of their leadership. Masoud Barzani is effectively the same as the late Rauf Denktaş who, in northern Cyprus, sold out local communities for dollars and lira.

The impact of Washington's blindness to Ankara's agenda is the most important point. There can be no victory against terrorism in the region so long as Erdogan remains in charge of Turkey. The Islamic State is as linked to Turkey as Hezbollah is linked to Iran and the Taliban are linked to Pakistan. The biggest obstacle in Washington to ending the Islamic State threat is now Ambassador James Jeffery's pro-Turkish policy.

After the USA supported the SDF in its war against ISIS, why did Turkey attack the SDF? How do you evaluate the US position on this and what should Washington do about continuing to combat terrorism?

There is no excusing what happened. Trump made a mistake with severe moral and strategic implications. The Syrian Defense Forces were the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State. The Syrian Defense Forces are not terrorists by any definition. I hope that one day the Syrian Defense Forces and Syrian Kurds can forgive the United States for Trump's betrayal.