1/10 What’s Next in US Turkish Relations? w/ Steven A. Cook

January 10, 2019

Joining correspondent Michael Brooks on today’s program is Steven A. Cook (@stevenacook), the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, to discuss the status of America’s Syria withdrawal and how Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and John Bolton’s cancelled meeting can help explain where the US Turkish relationship stands.

The Trump administration’s foreign policy agenda hardly seems to have any guiding vision at all–it looks more like bad improv that could bring mass suffering.  The basic premise of withdrawing from Syria is a positive one for US forces, but is it primarily a move to placate Turkey after the Khashoggi murder fallout? Cook explains how Trump and Erdogan discussed a withdrawal from Syria for over a month. According to Cook, Trump did not know that YPG, the Kurdish allies fighting alongside US forces in Syria, was considered a “terrorist organization” by Turkey and Erdogan. Trump then saw an opportunity to satisfy the wishes of Turkey and his base by pulling out of Syria. Looming over this development is the status of ISIS. Cook breaks down the history of Turkey’s conflict between Syrian Kurds, ISIS, and explains and why American forces did and didn’t intervene.

If any of this confuses you, we got you covered. Cook helps explains the difference between the PKK (Kurdistan) and YPG (Syrian Kurds) and their respective actions in their fight for autonomy in Turkey and Syria. The PKK helped set up the YPG, there is a linkage between the two, there are fighters working for both outfits which is a result of the nature of the conflict in Syria. Brooks explains that PKK have indeed employed violent tactics in order to establish their commendable social democratic ends–tactics not dissimilar from those used by the IRA in Northern Ireland.  American foreign policy experts are now considering whether or not to consider these Kurdish fighters are a terrorist organization. The Turks are pushing experts in Washington to lump Kurds into the same category of threat as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Trump waffling on the US forces departure makes the Syrian conflict more complex. However, it also signals open season for bad actors in the region. For context, after Trump’s announcement Saudi Arabia rewrote its defense doctrine, allowing its armed forces to continue its bombing campaign in Yemen. Further, Turkey calling the Kurds terrorists shows that once US troops are out of Syria there will like be a direct conflict between Turkey and the Kurds.

If that was not enough Middle Eastern policy for you, Brooks and Cook serve up a quick rundown of el-Sisi’s Egypt after Sec. of State Mike Pompeo delivered a proverbial green light speech to the dictator’s leadership today.

And in the Fun Half: Trump knows his “absolute right” to declare a national emergency for the wall, Pelosi slams Trump’s inherited wealth after he left negotiations with Democratic leadership, Trump’s cartel car came after watching “Fast & Furious 4,” Mike Pence defends the president’s temper tantrum “he brought candy!” Anna Pressley stands in solidarity with furloughed federal workers, Mike Pompeo’s American empire doesn’t meet its own imperialist standards, Kamala Harris defended the idea of AOC’s proposals on the View, a “rational republican?” How the Overton window has moved on billionaires, plus your calls and IMs!

Become a member today at JointheMajorityReport.com

Support Nomiki Konst in her run for New York Public Advocate. Donate here!

Just Coffee: Get 10% off fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate with coupon code “Majority” at justcoffee.coop!

The Michael Brooks Show live! @ The Bell House, February 1st 2019. Pre-order tickets here.

Check out The Michael Brooks Show at patreon.com/tmbs, and the new TMBS YouTube channel for all short TMBS clips

Check out Matt’s podcast, Literary Hangover, at Patreon.com/LiteraryHangover or on iTunes

Check out Jamie’s podcast, The Antifada, at patreon.com/theantifada, on iTunes, or at youtube.com/theantifada

Follow the Majority Report crew on Twitter:







Past Episodes

First, University of Massachusetts-Lowell professor of economics Bill Lazonick joins Sam for part 2 of their discussion on stock buybacks. Duke professor of History Edward Balleisen joins us to discuss his book "Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff." What is fraud in a legal ...
NetSuite by Oracle: the business management software that handles every aspect of your business in an easy-to-use cloud platform. Get NetSuite's guide "Crushing the Five Barriers to Growth" at NetSuite.com/Majority Joybird offers one-of-a-kind furniture made to your unique taste. Go to ...
The Nation's Eric Alterman (@Eric_Alterman) joins us to discuss Elliot Abrams' war crimes. Also: Isabel Gillies (@isabelgillies) returns to discuss her new book 'Cozy: The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World.' On today's show: Alex Jones declares war on Joe Rogan. Ilhan Omar bravely ...