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NATO discusses Turkish operation in Syria but does not condemn Ankara

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — NATO will hold its first meeting on Thursday since Turkey launched its military operation against Kurds in northeastern Syria, an opportunity for a “frank discussion” on the move, but the alliance is not in a position to forfeit a strategic ally by putting it in a cage.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg refuses to condemn the Turkish operation and agreed to Ankara’s “legitimate concern” over its security to justify the operation.

He acknowledged the tension raised by the operation in NATO.

“Differences between the allies pose problems. So we need an open and frank discussion and the meeting of defense ministers on Thursday and Friday in Brussels will allow that,” he said.

A senior diplomat said the talks would be “hot,” but “there is no question of difference,” adding: “It is not possible to punish Ankara or exclude Turkey, there are no measures for that.” “We will not lose Turkey because it is a strategic ally.”

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed this approach. He said upon arrival in Brussels, “Turkey puts us all in a terrible situation” through its military operation in Syria this month.

“I think there is no justification for the Turkish incursion,” he said. He stressed that it is the responsibility of NATO currently “to work together to strengthen our partnership with them and return them to the direction (correct) to return ally of the past strong and reliable.”

– Get Turkey out of Russia’s orbit

The US Secretary of State acknowledged that the United States is concerned about seeing “a good ally going to Russia’s orbit rather than NATO.”

Ankara is stepping up defiance gestures to NATO as it has decided to buy S-400 anti-missile defense systems from Russia despite protests from its allies, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan struck a deal with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to monitor areas where Kurdish fighters in Syria are pulling out on the border with Turkey.

That stance resent its NATO partners and Ankara has not been spared criticism. “We cannot behave as if nothing had happened,” said a European delegate.

“We continue to face a country, Turkey, our NATO partner, which has annexed territory in violation of international law and where residents are expelled, and we cannot leave things as they are,” said German Defense Minister Inggrett Kramp-Karnbaur.

The agreement between Presidents Erdogan and Putin is contrary to the idea of ​​establishing an international trusteeship zone in northern Syria under the supervision of the United Nations.

She said she wanted to “know if the target was achievable” but the possibility of implementing her proposal was questionable because it would require sending troops, something Germany is unwilling to accept, as several diplomats said.

The US defense secretary did not respond to the German minister’s proposal, saying: “I did not read it, I did not see the details.”

“We don’t have any document,” he said. “NATO is not the place to discuss it, because it should be discussed with the Russians.”

On the other hand, France is demanding a meeting of the ministers of the international coalition countries on Thursday or Friday on the sidelines of the Brussels meeting because the Turkish intervention jeopardized efforts to fight Islamic State in Syria by the US-led international coalition to which Turkey belongs.

Turkish intervention against Kurdish forces allied to the international coalition is on the ground.

Mark Esper again seemed vague about his intentions. “Our commitment to them (the Kurds) does not involve establishing an independent state or defending them against Turkey. It’s a bitter truth,” he said.

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