News Analysis: U.S. officials visit to Turkey reveals differences on withdrawal from Syria: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-10 01:36:38|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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ANKARA, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- A visit by U.S. delegation to Turkey has once again revealed differences regarding the withdrawal of American soldiers from Syria, according to Turkish experts.

The remarks by the U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton ahead of his talks in Ankara "sabotaged" discussions with Turkish authorities in post-U.S. period in Syria, in an effort to undermine a deal brokered between the Turkish and U.S. presidents, experts said.

This U.S. delegation's visit unearthed the fact that the establishment within the American state and the U.S. President Donald Trump do not see eye to eye on Middle East policy, including cooperation with Turkey, according to daily Sabah columnist Okan Muderrisoglu.

He recalled a deal between Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached during a phone call on Dec. 14, 2018 at which the U.S. president made decision of U.S. troops' withdrawal, delegating fight against the Islamic State (IS) to Turkish troops.

Muderrisoglu underlined that the U.S. establishment is balking against Trump's decision on U.S. pullout and therefore acting against the deal between the two presidents.

The journalist pointed at Erdogan's remarks after bilateral talks that need emerged for another phone conversation with Trump.

Bolton, accompanied by U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey, who is also the newly appointed special envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat Islamic State, paid a visit to Ankara on Tuesday following the phone conversation.

The delegation came to the capital for talks on how Turkey will take over struggle against the IS after Washington's planned military withdrawal from Syria.

Bolton's discussions in the capital took place under tense atmosphere due to the U.S. official's earlier disruptive remarks to safeguard the Kurdish militants in Syria which caused him being snubbed by Erdogan.

The Turkish president also refused to meet with Bolton, according to the Turkish media.

Before arriving in Turkey, Bolton irritated Ankara by saying the U.S.' pullout is conditioned on Turkey's promise to ensure the safety of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), an ally of the U.S. forces in defeating the IS.

"Bolton has made a serious mistake. Whoever agrees with what he says is making the mistake," Erdogan said at the parliament while Bolton was having talks with presidential aide Ibrahim Kalin.

Even before Bolton, Turkey was already uncomfortable with a statement of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who last week said Washington wants to prevent Turkey from "slaughtering" Kurds as American troops prepare to withdraw from Syria.

There are some countries and some circles within the U.S. administration that tried to dissuade the state on the issue of withdrawal, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

"We saw that there are different voices within the administration," he said referring to the meeting.

"Trump acts in a way, the men of the president act in a different way," according to Burhanettin Duran, coordinator of Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research, who stressed unwillingness of the U.S. officials to implement Trump's policy decisions.

Trump did not ask his team for pullout from Syria, he said, adding that "his men, who were to visit Ankara for negotiations on this withdrawal, have sabotaged the talks even before arriving Turkey."

A part of the administration wants Turkey to fight against the IS without establishing a foothold in northeastern Syria and to steer clear of the YPG-controlled area, he noted.

However, the Turkish government is determined for a military operation into this region, and Erdogan's statement indicates that Ankara could afford launching military incursion at the expense of coordination with Washington, Duran said.

Trump's announcement of pulling the 2,000 troops out of Syria has raised expectations that Turkey could launch a military operation targeting the YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist group with links to Kurdish separatists in Turkey.

Turkey sees this as an opportunity to contain the Kurdish fighters along with clearing remains of the jihadist group in Syria.

On Tuesday, the Turkish president reiterated Turkey's determination for a new operation in Syria.