Perhaps at glacier speed yet things appear to have started to move between Turkey and the U.S. Stars are almost getting aligned what with Turkey in dire need of fresh monies to fill its fast emptying forex coffers and the U.S. shifting its military focus for the umpteenth time from the MidEast to global rivalry with first China and then Russia. For sure, there are few more obstacles en route to this new temptation between the two countries but these are not immovable mountains. They involve a streamlining of strategies in Libya and Syria fronts, a mutually suitable outcome for the S-400 issue and the compartmentaliazation of the Kurdish conflict into separate conflicts.
On Syria, U.S. Special Representative Jeffrey recently mentioned “a very limited American military presence for a very specific goal: to go after ISIS, supporting military operations of other countries in various ways—Turkey, Israel—and focusing on economic and diplomatic pressure" and added that “this (i.e. Syria) isn't a quagmire; my job is to make it a quagmire for the Russians." More or less this is what Turkish foray into the now shrunk but fortified northern half of the Idleb pocket is about. This also contradicts the U.S. support for PKK extension to the east of Euphrates. Ergo, if one re-calibrates US strategic aim as “only” fighting the ISIS and sever the ties of Rojava to Qandil at least on paper as in re-naming an umbrella organization “SDF” and why not, encouraging the YPG/YPJ to cut a separate deal with Ankara, voila, problem solved.
As always it takes two to tango: Why would Ankara be inclined to walk that line? As recent as of May 11, the MFA spokesperson provided this answer albeit in a different context: “France, whose intentions to establish a state of terror in Syria were disrupted with a heavy blow by our Operation Peace Spring.” Actually the so-called “state of terror” here-above mentioned is a “terrorist statelet” in the original Turkish version but never mind, one presumably do get the picture. If the perfid instigator is France not the U.S. and if that malicious design is already disrupted, again problem solved. Furthermore, breaches can be open between PDK, PUK and PKK as exemplified in a recent Zine Werte piece stand-off as well as between the ENKS and the SDF and even between Öcalan and HDP. For U.S., all these steps are gobbledegook anyway -meaning of no tangible importance whatsoever.
Third, in Libya, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg who wouldn’t by default bat an eyelid without prior consultation with the member countries and the US foremost among them, reiterated support for the GNA of Fayez Sarraj underlining the fact that the GNA is no equivalent to Hafter’s LNA. US Ambassador to Libya Mr.Norland in an interview with Al Quds Al Arabi said that "the U.S. wants to see an end to the LNA's attack on Tripoli, a permanent ceasefire, and a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict.” According to Emad Badi of the Atlantic Council “this interview reflects a contemporary mild - but real - shift in Washington's attitude towards Libya; there is more criticism of Russia and less empathy towards UAE - translating into less appeasement of Haftar.” Why not turn Libya too into an additional quagmire for Russia- with the help of Turkish armed drones and air defense systems? Turkey officially stated that it “considers Haftar’s elements as legitimate targets in case they target our interests in Libya.”
In additional twists and turns of events, U.S. DOJ dropped all charges against Michael Flynn who acted as a non-declared lobbyist on behalf of Turkey in Washington DC and potential fines against Halkbank is long forgotten. S-400 activation is further delayed, COVID19 pandemic providing a useful alibi to do so. Even Turkish Navy Admiral Yaycı who is of “Blue Motherland” fame but also is an ardent oracle of inevitable Turkey-U.S. military clash in Iraq is removed of his active duties. What else can one expect in order to see that elusive swap line –literally a lifeline- with the Federal Reserve to be open? Yes, it is not a political but a financial issue we all know that, but a wink and a nod from President Trump in return of all the above good will gestures may perhaps shed a more positive light for a happy outcome.
Executive one-line summary: If yours truly’s armchair assessment proves to hold the ground, you may expect the most unexpected and get ready for Turkey to change horses in Syria and an exploratory conversation -far from the unwarranted inquisitive eyes of third parties- to begin with the SDF. And a friendly warning: Don’t bet on it.