Former US envoy to Damascus, Robert Ford, says Ankara's cooperation in fight against Daesh will be easier if the new Joe Biden administration ends direct assistance for PKK/YPG terror group.

Turkish President Erdogan (R) receives then US vice president Biden at the Turkish Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on August 24, 2016.
Turkish President Erdogan (R) receives then US vice president Biden at the Turkish Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on August 24, 2016. (AA Archive)

Joe Biden's administration must withdraw US soldiers from Syria and rely on Turkey and Russia to contain Daesh there, but cooperation will be easier once Washington is no longer directly assisting the PKK/YPG terrorists, a former US envoy to Damascus has said. 

Calling the Trump administration's Syria policy a failure, Robert Ford argued in a Foreign Affairs article that Ankara has "clear incentives to cooperate" as Daesh has also launched terror attacks inside Turkey. 

Ford stressed that Washington should help the country control its nearly 911-km border, adding further that "Washington will have to provide Turkey with technological and intelligence support to monitor terrorist traffic."

He said cooperation from Ankara will be easier once Washington is no longer directly assisting the PKK/YPG, saying, "Turkey's primary objective is to stop these groups from establishing an autonomous entity in Syria."

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Biden must avoid 'another forever war'

The approach should aim to contain Daesh without committing the US military to "another forever war" and acknowledge Turkey and Russia's "interests in Syria might produce better results," Ford wrote.

Ford argued that the US will need to convince Turkey to secure its southern border to mitigate the threats against US allies or interests.

The former diplomat also stressed that the YPG/PKK – backbone of the SDF – domination will create fractions in the region where Turkey distinguishes Kurdish people and the terror group.

"Arab residents have also protested the SDF's alleged administrative corruption, heavy-handed counterterrorist operations, and conscription practices. For their part, Kurdish forces have carried out car bomb attacks against Arab towns under Turkish military control."

In fact, without needing US encouragement, since 2016 Turkey has launched three counterterror operations across its southern border to protect locals and prevent the formation of a PKK/YPG "terror corridor" in northern Syria.

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US supervision created 'semi-state'  

"During his four years in office, US President Donald Trump repeatedly promised to get the United States out of the nation-building business," Ford said. 

"But the Trump administration departed from its no-nation-building policy to pursue one long-shot effort – in Syria," Ford continued, saying the US tried to use military force and financial pressure to compel the Assad regime to accept major constitutional reforms and a so-called "autonomous zone" in the country's northeast.

Under US supervision, that region developed into a so-called "semi-state" with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the YPG, he said.

Turkey has long made the case that the YPG and SDF are not separate groups but in fact, two labels employed by the terrorist group PKK.

The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot and in 2017, the terror group sought to re-brand itself as the so-called SDF.

In its nearly 40-year terror campaign, the PKK has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. 

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US goal not achieved in Syria

"After six years and roughly $2.6 billion, this statelet is America's baby, raised under US military protection and shielded from hostile neighbours," Ford said. 

Unable to support itself, the autonomous zone will remain dependent on US resources for the foreseeable future, he said.

"An open-ended commitment of this kind is not what the United States needs," he added.

Ford argued that Syria "has never been a major" US national security issue, adding, "American interests there have always been limited to preventing the conflict from threatening Washington’s more important concerns elsewhere."

Claiming the current US policy for Syria "does little" to accomplish that central goal, he said it "has also not secured political reform in Damascus, restored stability to the country, and dealt with the remnants of" Daesh.

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Source: AA