Despite the fact that Turkey has been defying the US as of recently with regard to its purchase of Russian S-400 missile system, the US president has finally conceded to its NATO partner’s long-standing demand of invading northern Syria and wipe out the Kurdish militias. This is a critical decision since Kurdish militias were the main US ground allies in the war against the Islamic State in Syria. With the US now abandoning its only ground ally in Syria, a policy shift is in the air, a change that might ultimately go to Syria’s benefit. While we shall come to this point later, what is pertinent here to discuss is the factor that led the US to change its erstwhile position vis-à-vis Kurds.
There is hardly any gainsaying that the world is increasingly becoming multipolar, and Turkey being a ‘Middle Kingdom’ between two poles has been making the best use of its geo-strategic position in the emerging world order. As Erdogan said in his recent UNO speech, “the world is bigger than five.” He was referring to the five permanent members of the Security Council: Britain, France, Russia, China, and America. Perhaps he wants his country to be included as a sixth, or that the world has already changed too much for these countries to manage on their own without showing sensitivity to other powers’ interests.
As many reports in the mainstream western media have indicated, Turkey, despite its very explicit strategic ties with Russia, remains important for the US. The fact that the US, despite being so deeply accustomed to running the world unilaterally, has had to change its position reflects the necessary foreign policy and strategic adjustments that even the US is having to make in this increasingly multipolar world where a country, relatively much smaller than the US and lying on the intersection of Asia and Europe, can force a much bigger and powerful country to prioritise a smaller country’s interests.
Two things, as such, stand out. First, Turkey is no longer a pliant and a willing US partner and/or a strong adherent to the dead cold war agenda of ‘containment’ of the Soviet Union, or Russia and China in the contemporary era, although it still continues to provide İncirlik Air Base,