Erdogan is playing Trump and Putin against each other in Syria

To this end, Erdogan called Trump on Oct. 6. Although the White House later denied it, the readoutof the call suggests that Trump indeed greenlighted the assault. Trump, who does not want to keep U.S. troops in Syria any longer, gladly offered to withdraw American forces from Syria and pave the way for the Turkish incursion so Ankara could take responsibility for the battle against ISIS.

Similarly, Russian President Vladimir Putin also tacitly approved of the Turkish offensive, hoping that subsequent events would bog Turkey and Washington down further in Syria. The YPG collapsed like a house of cards only four days into the Turkish military operation against it.

In January 2018, Erdogan used a similar tactic, complaining to Putin about the protection the Russian and Assad regime had extended to the YPG in its other enclave, in northwestern Syria. That resulted in Putin — who has a new policy of courting Erdogan — giving Ankara its own green light for an offensive against the YPG, culminating in a complete takeover of the Kurdish area by Turkey and its allies in Syria.