TIME TO GET TOUGH WITH TURKEY
The U.S. has lots of leverage – let’s use it.
The Trump administration is trying to walk a fine line between Turkey, which it still refers to as a NATO ally, and our Kurdish allies on the ground in northern Syria, and it has become increasingly painful and disheartening to watch.
For the past two months, as Turkish troops have pounded civilians in the northern Syrian city of Afrin, Turkish President Recip Tayip Erdogan has verbally assaulted and taunted America.
The fact that U.S. commanders – undoubtedly under the direction of Defense Secretary Mattis – continued to avoid any direct contact with Turkish troops only emboldened Erdogan. Just before the final assault on Afrin last week, he taunted: “NATO members are not powerful enough to stand up to Turkey… [T]hey do not have the cheek.”
Once YPG fighters withdrew from Afrin on March 15, and civilians evacuated in the following days, Islamist militias backed by the Turkish army swooped into the city, destroying Kurdish cultural sites and plundering homes and businesses.
These were exactly the people the U.S. has been trying to defeat on the battlefield. And here Turkey has made them their allies and is training and equipping them.