Our “allies” in Turkey continue to redefine our relationship on a weekly basis and not much of this action has taken things in a positive direction. The latest incident was the response of the Tyrant of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to an announcement regarding U.S. plans in northern Syria. It seems that our military is planning on building up a “border force” numbering in the tens of thousands, designed to stabilize and support the Kurds in that region who backed us in the war with ISIS all these years.
The Turkish response? They’re going to “strangle” it before it gets out of the gate. (Reuters)
Syria, Turkey and Russia responded vehemently on Monday to new U.S.-backed plans to set up a 30,000-strong “border force” inside Syria to protect territory held by Washington’s mainly Kurdish allies.
The Syrian government vowed to drive the U.S. presence from the country. Turkey, an increasingly estranged U.S. ally within NATO, accused Washington of setting up a “terror army” on the Turkish border, and said it would take steps to protect itself.
Russia, the main ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said the U.S. plans revealed a plot to partition Syria.
At first glance, you might think that any plan in that region that ticks off both the Russians and Bashar al-Assad is probably a good thing. And perhaps it will be, but there’s plenty of question marks hanging over everything we do in that region these days. It seems as though every time we try to do something nice for the Kurds, be it in Iraq, Syria or Turkey, we get burned for it. Still, we are the only true allies that the Kurds have left (at least the only ones with the muscle to do anything substantial to help them) and abandoning them after the service they provided to the west for all these years would be rightly viewed as a betrayal.
But at the same time, there’s only so much we can reasonably do. If we had moved to support a Kurdish independence bid in northern Iraq we’d have had everyone in the region calling for our heads. And this new border force plan definitely has the look of a move designed to “partition” Syria, as the Russians have stated. Unless we’re prepared to move in some serious troop levels and armor to hold that territory, the Kurds are probably in trouble. But doing so might put us into a situation approaching open war with not only Syria and Russia, but Turkey as well.
Still, the response from Turkey was completely over the top. We have advisory troops on the ground there and if Erdogan has any thoughts of crossing the border and “strangling” anyone with direct military action, he should be expecting a strident response. But this also drives a wedge further into our supposed alliance with Turkey. Keep in mind that the Turks currently have nearly a dozen American citizens locked up as hostages, including Pastor Andrew Brunson who has now been imprisoned for more than a year. The United States needs to find some leverage here and find a way to deal with Erdogan effectively before the situation goes from unpleasant to explosive.