Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Rumblings of a Bigger War in Syria

What would we do if our Turkish "allies" launched a major military attack on our Syrian Kurdish "allies"?
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Days after a reshuffle of Turkey's top military commanders, President Tayyip Erdogan has revived warnings of military action against Kurdish fighters in Syria that could set back the U.S.-led battle against Islamic State.

Kurdish militia are spearheading an assault against the hardline militants in their Syrian stronghold Raqqa, from where Islamic State has planned attacks around the world for the past three years.

But U.S. backing for the Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria has infuriated Turkey, which views their growing battlefield strength as a security threat due to a decades-old insurgency by the Kurdish PKK within in its borders.

There have been regular exchanges of rocket and artillery fire in recent weeks between Turkish forces and YPG fighters who control part of Syria's northwestern border.

Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO after the United States, reinforced that section of the border at the weekend with artillery and tanks and Erdogan said Turkey was ready to take action.

"We will not leave the separatist organization in peace in both Iraq and Syria," Erdogan said in a speech on Saturday in the eastern town of Malatya, referring to the YPG in Syria and PKK bases in Iraq. "We know that if we do not drain the swamp, we cannot get rid of flies."
There are hundreds of Americans working in Syria with the YPG, including artillery batteries currently engaged against the Islamic State in Raqqa. Is Erdogan mad enough to attack the Kurds anyway?

Can you imagine Trump doing nothing if an American were killed?

This seems quite dangerous to me.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

On the surface, if forced to choose between one or the other, it seems like it'd be an easy call.

Turkey is the bigger country, with a bigger economy, a bigger military, and greater stability. They occupy a more strategic location. They're more secular, and have been secular for longer. They are a candidate for membership in the EU, and their desire to join has the overall effect of influencing them towards greater cooperation rather than belligerence. Syrian Kurdish rebels can't quite measure up on paper.

Of course, there's a lot more underneath the surface that muddies the issue. Our love of supporting rebels in defiance of the wishes and interests of our more legitimate allies always seems to get us into rather messy situations like this.

And then the wild card on top of it all is Trump, and the chaos his ignorance, ego, and blustering might cause us to stumble into.

My guess is Erdogan is chiefly concerned with putting on a display of authority and power, and any actions he takes will be within or very near to Turkish borders. I imagine he knows he wouldn't get away with much more than that, and he doesn't really want to jeopardize his relationships with other powers over the issue. Turkey just stands to lose far too much if that happens.