Washington is shaken by the violence of the attacks on President Donald Trump. You can feel the tremor – which you can also observe from a distance – to the bone in the U.S.
During President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to the U.S., the claim that Trump shared secret information about Daesh with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was on the American media's agenda. But what an agenda! A never-ending barrage from treason to jeopardizing the safety of U.S. citizens. And a breaking development every minute.
The turbulence occurred when Trump dismissed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey just before this latest scandal hit the agenda once again while Erdoğan's plane was taking off from Washington. In fact, Comey told the media that Trump had asked him to end the federal investigation into Mr. Trump's former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, because of his ties with Russia, in an Oval Office meeting. So, scandals are coming one after another. If Trump tries to move a piece of the system, the entire established order swoops down on him. Even Republicans like John McCain, who described the situation to be "as big as the Watergate scandal," do not stand behind Trump. This shows why the new president can only realize 10 percent of the assignments he has to complete, and how he is having trouble even forming his team.
This picture in Washington reminded me of the meeting that took place between former U.S. President Barack Obama and Erdoğan at the White House in May 2013. Erdoğan paid this visit to the U.S. with a comprehensive file, including chemical weapons in Syria, after the Reyhanlı attack and before the Gezi Park protests. But in those days, Obama was in deep waters like Trump. The National Security Agency (NSA) scandal had just broken out and the established order negotiated with Obama for the last time through the media. In fact, Obama could not really endure the pressure and shortly succumbed. The difference between the first and second term of the former president was thus formed, and his whole perspective from Syria to Turkey, and from Iran to Israel, changed.
As I think that Trump will be more resistant than Obama, I should say that I do not think this fight will be so open and that it will be as tough as a civil war. I would think that the established order would pressure Trump to “tame” him, but they are so relentless. Apparently, they have no other agenda except for getting rid of Trump. Just think of what the U.S. is doing to Trump as what our mainstream media did to former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan and Erdoğan.
It is obvious that Trump is in need of great success in the eyes of the public in order to survive. Therefore, we foresaw in a previous column that he would see the Raqqa operation as a golden opportunity not to be missed. It is possible to achieve this through cooperation with Turkey in the ideal world, but, unfortunately, we do not live in such a world.
The result of the Erdoğan-Trump meeting is that although Trump's approach toward Turkey is very different from the Obama administration's, he has submitted to the pressures of the military wing to conduct the Raqqa operation with the People's Protection Units (YPG). It was the preliminary indicator that the Pentagon made Trump sign the order to provide heavy weapons to the YPG before Erdoğan's visit in order to determine the course of the meeting. While the situation Trump is facing is clear, he seems to have said to Erdoğan, "Let me win that victory, then it will be good."
But is it enough for the U.S. to promise Turkey that "it will share intelligence on the PKK?” Even if the new administration accepts the link between the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the YPG, saying that it is “ethnic,” how will this happen while PKK militants, on whose heads Turkey has placed a bounty, are hosting U.S. soldiers in Syria wearing YPG uniforms?
Moreover, how much of a potential “Raqqa victory” that will come with the YPG will belong to Trump, and how much of it will belong to the Pentagon? How much of this victory will the U.S. media, the trigger of the established order, which will put it in the headlines for days, make Trump enjoy? Or will the U.S. president be able to dismiss some military figures, with whom Turkey is troubled, while they are on the ascendant?
How will the YPG, which will be well-popularized in Raqqa, be pushed to the background then? Is it guaranteed that it will not be said to Turkey that "The YPG will approach Russia if we leave it” on that day as it has been so far? Arab sources confirmed that Daesh's consensual withdrawal was behind the seizure of Tabqa, which was presented like a “critical victory” for the siege of Raqqa. While everything so far has been a theater act, what will be different in Raqqa where everything is knotted? How is it reliable that those who put Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) mask on the YPG say that the administration to be established in Raqqa will consist of Arab and local elements?
Although Erdoğan understands Trump's plight and minds his promises, I think he sees possibilities even better than Trump himself. Moreover, I do not think that Turkey is patient enough to wait for the result of the civil war Trump is fighting, given that it first waited for the U.S. elections and then the April 16 referendum.
Erdoğan's statements to us journalists in Washington includes important clues in this regard. He said, “If there is any attack from the YPG and PYD [Democratic Union Party] to Turkey, we will apply the rules of engagement without asking anyone. We have put it clearly. We already did this in al-Rai, Jarablus and al-Bab.”
Despite the U.S.'s decision to act with the YPG in Raqqa, Turkey will maintain its presence in Syria and Iraq. It will not allow the formation of a terror corridor on its border. The two countries will continue to develop relations on all other issues, but they will go their separate ways until the U.S. eventually knocks on Turkey's door regarding Syria.