Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been warning for weeks that he planned to hit the Syrian Democratic Forces deep inside Syrian territory, and after sending a significant force to the border, he has now managed to cut a deal with Donald Trump. The US president is keeping his promise to voters by pulling back US forces, as Turkey prepares to take over the scene in northern Syria at the expense of thousands of captured ISIS militants.
Through this agreement with the US, Turkey has strengthened its position in the Western alliance as the guardian of refugees and others, such as jihadist rebel groups and now ISIS members, that the superpowers don’t want to deal with.
After the earlier European Union deal with Turkey to keep Syrian refugees out, Erdogan has made a bargain of great importance once again, and proved himself to be, however unlovable, an indispensable partner of the West because of his country’s position as a needed barrier between Europe and the Middle East. Western tolerance toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s regional allies, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for example, gave Erdogan an opportunity to undermine the Western standards of democracy and consolidate his power, but he nevertheless remained an ally necessary for both the EU and the US.