Is Erdogan’s War on Syrian Kurds Becoming a War on the United States? (TheNation).
President Erdogan seems to believe he can bully Trump into abandoning his allies in the fight against ISIS.
The Trump administration was unusually subdued this week after the Turkish air force launched a bombing campaign against facilities of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria.
The State Department said it “asked” Turkey to stop killing US allies in the fight against ISIL (ISIS, or the Islamic State). The Pentagon complained that Turkey not only hit its allies but failed to coordinate with the US Air Force, which is flying in the area. In essence, Turkey acted as a hostile power against the US war effort. In the aftermath, a fierce firefight has broken out at the Syrian-Turkish border between YPG forces and Turkish army units operating in northern Syria.
Washington has been deeply frustrated by Turkey’s unwillingness to devote significant resources to rolling up ISIL. Erdogan’s priority has been attempting to destroy the PKK, and attacking what he sees as its Syrian Kurdish allies. Ankara fears that for the sake of defeating al-Baghdadi in Raqqa, the United States is helping to create an autonomous Syrian Kurdistan, which in turn may act as a model for Turkish Kurds, some 20 percent of the population of Turkey. In fact, separatist sentiments are not very widespread among Turkish Kurds, though economic discontent over government neglect of the hardscrabble southeast is. Erdogan has displaced some 350,000 Kurds with his current campaign, however, and is polarizing his country on several fronts at once.
The United States cannot hope to retain credibility as a battlefield ally of YPG fighters risking all to take on ISIL if it cannot even protect them from a NATO member like Turkey. Erdogan appears to believe that he can bully Trump into abandoning the Syrian Kurds as allies. It remains to be seen if he has calculated correctly. Read the full story here.