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Erdogan challenges three countries in one day. Part One: US and Manbij

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February 15, 2016 – Fort Russ News –

– Kamran Hasanov in Tsargrad, translated by Tom Winter 

“In the course of one day, events occurred that led to the cooling of relations with three countries at once: Greece, Israel and the United States.”

Former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu 10 years ago proclaimed the foreign policy doctrine “zero problems with neighbors.” With the approach of the Arab Spring, the concept began to malfunction. Turkey quarreled not only with Syria, Israel, Russia, but even with its allies in the “anti-Assad coalition” represented by the EU, the US and Saudi Arabia.

The incident with the Russian Su-24 somewhat sobered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who made Davutoglu “a scapegoat” for Ankara’s bad relations with the outside world. However, the neo-Ottoman policy, which Erdogan continues after the resignation of Davutoglu, preserves the risk of new frictions.

“Ottoman slap in the face” for the American general

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In the course of one day, events occurred that led to the cooling of relations with three countries at once: Greece, Israel and the United States. Although in the case of the United States, it would be more correct to talk about deepening the already existing gulf between the US and Turkey.

In the case of Greece and the United States, the initiative came more from the Turkish side. On February 13, Erdogan addressed almost derogatory words to the commander of the American coalition against ISIS in Syria, Paul E. Funk.

“Those who say they will give a tough answer (to Turkey’s operations in Manbij) probably never received an Ottoman slap in their life,” Erdogan said.

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“Ottoman slap” means a blow that the Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire inflicted with an open palm, sometimes leading to death. Let’s recall, earlier the American general threatened that there would be a stern answer if the Turks move to the Kurd-controlled Syrian city Manbij, where the US military is stationed.

The intensification of meetings between the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and the United States, of advisors to presidents and defense ministers, speaks of increased risks. Will the controversy in northern Syria lead to rending the union at the seams? Ali Ozkök, German political analyst of Turkish origin, considers unlikely any scenario under which Washington will impose sanctions against Ankara.

“Turkey is too important geopolitically. We can say that Turkey is the largest non-floating aircraft carrier in Eurasia because of its geopolitical importance. The southern flank of NATO could collapse, as former US admiral James Stavridis recently said. In addition, no one wants Turkey to turn into an enemy. “

The Berlin political scientist believes that the US itself can make concessions by handing over Manbij to Turkey. Ozkyok justifies this view with three factors:

1) Americans are afraid of pushing Erdogan even more towards the Kremlin;

2) strategically, Manbij is more important for Ankara than for Washington;

3) Turkey is ready for greater military risk than the United States.

In this case, the concessions of the Pentagon will only stimulate the appetites of Erdogan.

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“If the US withdraws from Manbij, it could provoke Turkey to occupy the next territory in Tal’s Abyad, east of the Euphrates River, which would turn the territory of YPG / SDF (the Kurds) into Swiss cheese,” Ozkök said.

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