President Obama says he doesn’t want to turn the Syria conflict into a proxy war. Unfortunately, that’s already happening, as combatants join the battle against the Islamic State with radically differing agendas that could collide.
Let’s look at the confusing order of battle: The United States has decided that its strongest partner against the Islamic State is a Syrian Kurdish force known as the YPG. But Turkey, nominally our NATO ally, says the YPG has links with what it claims is a Kurdish terrorist group. How’s that going to work out? No answers yet.
Russia, meanwhile, contends that it is fighting the Islamic State, alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But Russian warplanes have been bombing Islamist rebel groups that are covertly supported by the United States, Turkey and Jordan — and these brigades are fighting back hard. The rebels are posting videos bragging about their success with U.S. anti-tank missiles. The battle looks eerily like Russia’s war in Afghanistan, in embryo. Where’s it heading? No answer there, either.