Blinken and Fidan discuss “deconfliction mechanism” after US downs Turkish drone in Syria
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and his American counterpart Antony Blinken held a crucial phone call on Friday to address the escalating tensions between the two NATO allies, following the United States' downing of a Turkish drone in northern Syria. This incident marks the first of its kind between the two nations, further straining their already complex relationship.
The call between the diplomats shed light on the deep divide in their views and objectives regarding the “deconfliction mechanism,” a vital coordination tool aimed at preventing accidental clashes between their respective military forces operating in Syria. While both nations expressed a shared goal of combating terrorism, their interpretations of how to achieve it differed starkly.
According to the Turkish readout, it was "agreed that the deconfliction mechanism should be operated effectively in a way that does not hinder our fight against terrorism." Minister Fidan also emphasized the need for the United States to "stop working with the terrorist organization" - a reference to the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Additionally, he asserted that Turkey's counter-terrorism operations in Iraq and Syria would continue with unwavering determination.
In contrast, the US readout of the call was more cautious, mentioning no specific agreement reached during the conversation. Instead, it stated that Secretary Blinken "highlighted the need to coordinate and deconflict our activities." The readout did stress the common objective of defeating terrorist threats, regardless of their location in Syria, Iraq, or elsewhere, and the threat they posed to the security of both nations and their allies.
The phone call came in the wake of an official statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry earlier on Friday, acknowledging the loss of a Turkish drone during operations in Syria. The statement cited "varying technical assessments in the deconfliction mechanism with third parties" as a contributing factor to the incident. It promised that "necessary measures are being taken to ensure a more effective operation of the deconfliction mechanism with the relevant parties."
A separate Pentagon readout, released after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's conversation with his Turkish counterpart Yasar Guler on Thursday, underscored the importance of maintaining strict adherence to deconfliction protocols and communication through established military-to-military channels.
Furthermore, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown and his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Metin Gurak, also discussed the "need to follow common deconfliction protocols to ensure the safety of US troops in Syria," according to a separate Pentagon statement.