After Trump’s Pullback from Syria, Erdogan Cozies up to Iran, Beckons to Jordan

The United States and NATO pretend that Turkey is still a trusted Western ally. In Washington, the Trump administration acts as though it is still in regular dialogue with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his army chiefs. And Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Ankara on Wednesday Aug. 28, to show that business goes on as usual.
But under this untroubled surface, a tempest is brewing.
Mattis reached the Turkish capital in the wake of a troubling visit by a high-powered Iranian military delegation, the first in 27 years. It was headed by Maj. Gen. Mohamed Baqeri, commander of Iran’s chiefs of staff, and Maj. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps ground forces, and Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Rahimpour.
They talked at length with Erdogan and the Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar. On some issues, they disagreed but, all in all, they found common ground, most importantly on accord for joint Turkish-Iranian military action against the Kurds of Iraq and Syria.
On Sunday, Aug. 21, Erdogan took off for Jordan, telling reporters: “A joint military operation against the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in the Kandil region along the Iraqi-Iranian border is on the agenda.” He added: “Taking joint action with Iran is always on the agenda.”
He was as good as his word.
On Thursday, Aug. 24, it was announced that Turkey’s Chief of Staff would visit Tehran with a large military delegation to continue the consultations begun last week by Iranian military chiefs in Ankara.
The announcement came the day after Mattis’ visit to the Turkish capital.
Washington can no longer deny that a member of NATO has brazenly entered into military and intelligence collaboration with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and is, moreover, pursuing joint action against the Kurds, America’s foremost ally in the battles against the Islamic State.
And that is not all. DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources reveal that, when he sat down with King Abdullah in Amman, Erdogan pitched a plan for Jordan to join a new Turkish-Syrian-Iranian high command for coordinating their military operations in Syria, independently of the US and Russian command centers in Syria.
Sympathizing with the king’s trepidation about Iranian and pro-Iranian militias, like Hizballah, reaching the Jordanian border, he explained that by teaming up with Turkey and Iran, Jordan could lay its fears to rest.
Erdogan also claimed that Russian, Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah military chiefs fighting in Syria and Iraq were convinced that the US and its Western allies were pulling back from the confrontation with the Islamic State. Iran and Syria were therefore far more dependable than the US as guarantors of Jordan’s frontiers.
He then advised Abdullah to cool his security ties with Israel. In fact, the military and intelligence interaction between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom on their borders with Syria has anyway been tapering off.
The king greeted the Turkish leader warmly, calling him “brother.” But he left his visitor guessing on a response to his proposition. Careful thought is required before the Jordanian king takes the pivotal step of breaking away form the Egyptian-Saudi-UAE alignment and hopping aboard the bloc led by Iran, Turkey and Qatar.
Middle East observers took note of the fact that, although Mattis and Erdogan visited Amman on the same day, they did not meet, and the American defense secretary was not invited to the palace, although this was is first visit as defense secretary.
But it gave him a chance to appreciate close up the spreading fallout for Washington from President Donald Trump’s decision to keep US hands off the Syrian conflict. And so, instead of heading for Ukraine as planned, he flew to Baghdad for an unscheduled trip on Aug. 22 in the hope of putting a spoke in another of Tehran’s thrusts, cooperation between Iranian forces and the Iraqi army, which is playing out in a joint offensive to liberate Tal Affair, the last ISIS stronghold in northern Iraq.
(More about this in a separate article.)

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