Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is a strongman at the helm, with the audacity to challenge the super-power, thus influencing a shift in the might United States of America’s foreign policy.

It all begun with a phone call, Erdoğan warning the American President Trump to withdraw his forces in the cities of Manbij and Kobanî within the northern Syria near the Turkey-Syria border. President Erdogan told his American counterpart Trump that his forces would be in jeopardy ahead of the Turkey’s “Barış Pınarı Harekâtı” or known as Operation Peace Spring operation in English. When I read about this, I thought it was a propaganda campaign meant to heighten tensions between both countries, until i watched Trump’s troops pulling out of Manbij. Manbij had been turned into the Kurdish stronghold controlled by Syrian anti-government forces, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

President Erdogan, a well know devoted Muslim, invaded a foreign state to create what he called a “safe zone”. In what would be seen as a suicide mission and a gross violation of the international laws by many, the tough and fearless Erdogan seemed to be on the other side of the coin; he launched attacks on the Syrian territory to secure the two cities at the Syria-Turkey border to repatriate thousands of Syrian refugees who had fled endless Syrian civil war to Turkey.

The risky Turkey’s deployment in Syria influenced the United States foreign policy. Trump had created a coalition with the Kurdish forces to fight Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the cities of Manbij and Kobanî. Unlike the United States, Turkey considers the Kurdish’ Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as a terror organization so striking SDF was killing two birds with one stone. President Trump’s United States had threatened of imposing sanctions on Turkish ministers and other senior government officials if it continued to strike in Syria; Russian another key ally of the Syrian government also maintained its position opposing the operation and reinforced its forces deployment in Syria. Surprisingly Trump decided to pull out his troops in Syria, which was seen as a betrayal to the Kurds as per their previous coalition in fighting the ISIL in the war torn country. Many questioned US’s credibility and saw it as failure to its foreign policy.

Turkey’s tensions with Saudi Arabia and its main ally the United States of America could escalate further. Political differences between Turkey, Unites States and the Saudi Kingdom show no sign of ending. Not long ago, Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian controversial journalist who was seen a threat to the kingdom leadership was murdered inside a Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Since then Turkey and Saudi have been at loggerheads with Turkey accusing the Arab Kingdom of killing its own national on the Turkish soil; accusations that the Kingdom has consistently refuted.

Many thought the Khashoggi assassination would affect the existing US-Saudi Arabia relations as the US condemned his death and ordered for an independent investigation. Despite Turkey’s provision of all evidences pinning Saudi Arabia’s crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud to Khashoggi death; both countries reiterated that their mutual interests were bigger than Turkey’s accusations.

Turkey’s strongman Erdogan has proven that the United States’ foreign policy can be influenced by other parties. Though up to now many still wonder what could have triggered Trump’s decision of pulling out of Syria but Trump’s decision was strategic. Erdogan had a noble cause to defend besides securing Manbij and Kobanî for Syrian refugees’ settlements, Erdogan was also protecting his country from the Kurdish terrorists who could carry out terror activities on the Turkish soil.

By Sam A. Sewanyana Junior

Sam Abdul Aziz Sewanyana Junior is a political analyst based in the Great Lakes Region.

The Express News

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