While Turkish troops were crossing the Syrian border east of the Euphrates, Iranian army announced that it would hold surprise military drills near the Turkish border. At the same time President Hassan Rouhani called Turkey to cancel the operation.
Over the following days, we have seen a lot of statements from the Iranian government and military officials condemning the Turkish operation.
On the other hand, Israel’s response to the (third) Turkish invasion of Syria was a deafening silence. It took Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu almost 24 hours to condemn the invasion via Twitter and to offer ‘’humanitarian assistance’’ to the Kurds.
Israel had also a weak reaction on Turkish drilling of the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.
Some analysts have attributed the Israeli “silence” to the interior struggles of the Israeli state and the close relationship between Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu. Indeed, maybe this was the reason behind the unwillingness to comment on the “withdrawal” of American troops, but the Turkish invasion is a different thing.
Even Donald Trump criticized (albeit mildly) the Turkish invasion that he himself had allowed.
So, why is that? Why is Iran so loud and Israel is not? After all Iran has a problem with Kurdish groups like the PJAK and Israel had always been – together with the US- the closest ally of the Kurds in the region.
Well, the truth is that Turkey’s role in the aftermath of the Syrian conflict is still a mystery, but Iran sees Ankara’s involvement with skepticism while Israel sees it, if not with hope, with an open mind.
Iran is concerned that Turkey will act as the US’ overseer in the region and will undermine both the Assad government and its interests. Despite its recent rift with the US, Turkey is still a NATO member, and has a close relationship with Washington. Tehran has not yet ‘’locked” its presence in the country. Iranian bases in Syria are under constant attack from Israeli airstrikes, while Jerusalem pressures Moscow and Damascus to put an end in Iranian presence in Syria.
It should not come as a surprise, if in the following months we see Ankara coming closer with Israel while drifting away from Tehran, with Washington’s blessing of course.
President’s Trump decision to side with Ankara (don’t let the ‘’sanctions’’ fool you) was both a strategic and an economic one.
In order for Kurds to become a state, they would have needed financial help, on the other hand Turkey is already a powerful ally that buys American weapons and has strong economic ties with the US (trade deal of 100 billion dollars).
Why not let them act as a guarantor of American interests in the region?
As far as Trump’s economic sanctions to Turkey, they are more of an answer to the criticism within the US, as both the Democrats and his own party pressure him on abandoning the Kurds. We shouldn’t forget that his meeting with Erdogan in November still stands and hasn’t been cancelled yet.
The only downside in Trump’s plan for the upgraded role of Turkey in the Middle East, is that Turkey, because of its power, will not always follow the US and align with its interests. But for the moment, is seems that the leadership of the two countries have come to an “understanding”.
This article was written by Greek journalist Aris Dimitrakopoulos (Twitter: @ArisDimitrako) – he writes for ProNews.GR.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Al-Masdar News.