ISTANBUL — It was not surprising that Turkey announced support for Arab tribes in Syria's Deir Ezzor province against the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but the Turkish position opened the door to speculation about Ankara's relationship with what is happening and the scenarios of support it may provide to the tribes.

Since late last month, clashes have erupted in some villages in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor between Arab tribes and SDF, leading to dozens of deaths and injuries, while the SDF announced the end of its operation on Friday after reports of a series of negotiations sponsored by the US-led international coalition, amid warnings issued by Ankara to countries supporting the SDF.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last Tuesday that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) (which Ankara says leads the SDF) does not hesitate to commit any massacre to control oil in Deir Ezzor, adding, "We have issued the necessary warnings in this regard to the countries concerned."

Erdogan warned that "every weapon provided to the PKK contributes to the continuation of bloodshed in the region," referring to the dispute between Ankara and Washington over the latter's provision of weapons and ammunition to the SDF within the framework of the international coalition to fight ISIS.

While the Turkish president stated that Arab tribes "are the original owners of those areas," Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan called Wednesday to stop portraying the SDF as a legitimate force, "otherwise the clashes we see in Syria's Deir Ezzor are just the beginning."


Cautious anticipation

The Turkish official statements raised questions about the dimensions of the Turkish position, and whether the media and political support that appeared on the lips of officials for the Arab tribes will translate into field support, which was ruled out by observers who spoke to Al Jazeera Net for several reasons.

Turkish writer and political analyst Ali Asmar believes that Turkey is watching closely and cautiously, but without actual interference, pointing out that these developments - despite the fact that Turkey is an active member of the Syrian file - are taking place in a region far from Turkish influence.

Asmar added to Al Jazeera Net that Turkey is trying – so far – to monitor the situation remotely because of the maps of the balance of power in Syria, where each country has an impact in a particular region, and any defect in the control maps could lead to a collision and escalation, Ankara remains rich for the time being.

Asmar explained that Turkey came out of fateful elections and now has files and priorities, especially the economic file, adding, "To achieve real successes in this file, Ankara needs a kind of calm in foreign policy, given that any political tension will be followed by economic tension."


The fact of Turkish communication with the clans

It seems that Ankara's keenness not to be directly involved in a new conflict has not prevented it from establishing a channel of communication with the tribes of the region, according to lawyer and human rights activist Hussein al-Besisis, one of the faces of the region.

Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Al-Bassis said that Turkey has continuous communication with representatives of clans and tribes through the Syrian Clans and Tribes Council, which is active in southern Turkey, adding that the current Turkish position is that those fighting on the ground against the SDF are sons of those clans.

While observers were divided between those who believe that the Turkish position is indifferent to what is happening between the SDF and the tribes, and those who believe that it is a Turkish creation, Turkish researcher and expert in security affairs Ahmed Hassan believes that "both sides are not true."

Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Hassan added that the main point of contention between Turkey and the United States is based on Ankara's demand for the need to manage the local Arab component of its areas, remove the PKK from Syria, and harness oil and gas revenues for the benefit of infrastructure and services to the region, as the only way for the return of refugees, and prevent the emergence of extremist organizations again.


Financial and possibly intelligence support

Accordingly, Turkish researcher Ahmed Hassan believes that the recent official statements are fully consistent with the Turkish position adopted in this region, even in international negotiations with the United States and also Russia.

Hassan pointed out that the most Turkey can offer to the Arab component in Deir Ezzor is to direct financial support from Arab tribes and their representatives in Turkey to the leaders of the movement, in addition to targeting SDF leaders with Turkish marches, which is currently an approach.

The security expert ruled out a Turkish intervention beyond these borders because it leads to weakening the position of the tribes and making them part of an external plan, not to mention that this movement does not threaten Turkey and its national security, neither with a new wave of displacement nor with tension on the borders, as he described.

Turkish writer and political analyst Ali Asmar stressed that Ankara is waiting and wants to make sure of the possibility of changing the political and military scene, and the possibility of rearranging the cards again in Syria, based on those confrontations, or are they just temporary skirmishes that will not change anything in the Syrian file.

Asmar said Turkey "does not want escalation, but if Turkey's national security is jeopardized by these developments, I think it will not remain idle and it is possible to support the tribes logistically and intelligence, if necessary."

The clashes erupted at the end of last month after the US-backed SDF arrested the commander of its Deir Ezzor Military Council, Ahmed al-Khabil, prompting local fighters loyal to him to launch attacks on it, which quickly developed into clashes joined by Arab tribes, to which the residents of the area extending to the border with Iraq in the east, belong, and resulted in the tribes taking control of large SDF strongholds.

The fighting later spread to the countryside of Raqqa (north) and Hasaka (northeast) governorates adjacent to Deir Ezzor province, and tribes took control of a number of SDF-affiliated positions there.