Idlib test of the US

After the attack carried out by Assad and his backers, all eyes are turned to the US. While some predict that the US will not support Turkey regarding the issue of Idlib, others think that this is a new opportunity for Turkey-US relations.

In this handout provided by the US Army, US and Turkish military forces conduct the third ground combined joint patrol inside the security mechanism area in northeast Syria, Oct. 4, 2019. (Getty Images)

While Turkey’s Operation Spring Shield military operation against the Assad regime launched, US President Trump mentioned that he and President Erdogan continue to discuss the providing of the Patriot missiles to Turkey. As far as we can see, it is only a matter of time before these two leaders have another phone meeting regarding the issue of Idlib. 

Turkey has four goals about Idlib's operation: stopping the regime's offensive move in the region, providing a permanent and obligatory ceasefire, protecting the refugees and minimizing the refugee population on Turkish borders, and taking revenge for the heroic Turkish soldiers who were martyred. 

After the attack carried out by Assad and his backers, all eyes are turned to the United States. While some predict that the US will not support Turkey regarding the issue of Idlib, others think that this is a new opportunity for Turkey-US relations. 

Considering the statements made over the past five days, the US has given a clear message of solidarity with Turkey, strongly condemning the attack. While we haven’t seen word from the Pentagon, the White House and the US Department of State made clear statements. 

We have seen that only three senators (out of 100) and four representatives (out of 435) have made statements about Idlib. However, the very same Congress that made a great fuss about Turkey's previous military operations in Syria, has supported YPG-PKK with their statements.

So, will the US give solid support? In the short term, the possibility of Turkey being supported in Syria is not under consideration; likewise, this is also not the atmosphere in Washington, DC. However, when we take a look at the possible ways that the US could provide support, the options are as follows:

 - The increase of solidarity messages with Turkey in every medium, and leaning on Russia and the Assad regime,

 - Providing more intel to Turkey

 - Placement of 2 Patriot Missiles in Hatay

 - Closing the Idlib Air Space

 - Executing the "Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act" which has heavy sanctions against Syria

 - Being a pioneer among the NATO members by supporting Turkey more actively

 - Providing full support to Turkey in the United Nations

The atmosphere in Pentagon indicates clearly that they do not wish to side with Turkey in Syria with a manner that would provide direct support, due to the disconcertment over S400s, for avoiding any close contact with Russia and not believing in the idea of supporting Turkey on the grounds would not provide any results. When you take a look at the military side of the conflict, the US has virtually left the initiative to Russia and Iran with its reduced military presence; in total, there are 700 US. soldiers in Syria. Thus, we can conclude that the US is content with this situation.

The US Department of State and the White House, on the other hand, believe that tangible assistance will be effective in improving Turkish-US relations. There are serious discussions about the return of the Patriot system in particular. The US Department of State made it clear that Russia is behind the attacks targeting Turkey. 

While, US Ambassador to UN Kelly Kraft indicated that the attacks targeting Turkey were illegitimate, meaningless and barbarous and accused Russia and Iran, too: Permanent Representative of Turkey to UN Feridun Sinirlioglu referred Russia indirectly in his speech at the UN Security Council, indicating that Assad and his supporters were responsible for the attacks.

One wishes that the US, without losing too much time, would be able to say “My NATO ally, Turkey, has a security threat and needs Patriot missiles. Therefore, we should deliver them promptly.”

This is a huge opportunity for resolving the trust issue between Turkey and the US and for two NATO allies to cooperate closely once again.

A lot of concerns continue regarding Russia's involvement in killing Turkish soldiers last week. Let us see how President Putin and President Erdogan meeting will go on March 5th. The reality is that Turkey should not trust Russia, who is one of the countries responsible for the chaos in Syria.

I am hoping that the US and other NATO allies will not leave Turkey alone in Idlib.

Source: TRT World