Things are turning increasingly sour for the US, which is barely able to keep track of which feuding factions it supports in the escalating Syrian war.
Recall that over the weekend we reported how “Joe Biden Was Humiliated In Turkish “Appeasement” As Erdogan Bombs US Allies In Syria.” Concerned by Turkey’s recent overtures toward Russia, which even hinted at military cooperation between Moscow and Ankara, Biden arrived in Turkey last Wednesday, just as Turkey sent tanks into northern Syria, with nothing but appeasement for the Turkish president whose unprecedented crackdown on human rights has left over 100,000 Turks arrested, terminated, or otherwise “purged” without anything more than an occasional verbal rebuke by the western “democratic” powers.
Meeting with Erdogan and Turkey’s prime minister in Ankara, Biden delivered a message of alliance and conciliation: “Let me say it for one last time: The American people stand with you … Barack Obama was one of the first people you called. But I do apologize. I wish I could have been here earlier,” Biden said.
That is all Erdogan needed to hear as he then proceeded to launch a bombing campaign not against Islamic State holdouts in proximity to the Turkish border – the stated reason for the Turkish incursion – but against his legacy foes, the Kurdish militia, the YPG, which problematically for the US, is part of the broader U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition.
So, less than a week after Biden’s attempt to appease Erdogan, earlier today the United States, now finding itself in the paradoxical position of directly supporting two warring factions, criticized clashes between Turkish forces and some opposition groups in northern Syria as “unacceptable,” calling on all armed actors in the fighting to stand down and focus on battling ISIS.
Cited by NBC, Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the coalition to counter ISIS, said on his official Twitter account that according to the DOD “we want to make clear that we find these clashes — in areas where [ISIS] is not located — unacceptable and a source of deep concern.”
“We call on all armed actors to stand down… the U.S. is actively engaged to facilitate such deconfliction and unity of focus on [ISIS], which remains a lethal and common threat,” he added.
At the start of Turkey’s now almost week-long cross-border offensive, Turkish tanks, artillery and warplanes provided Syrian rebel allies the firepower to capture swiftly the Syrian frontier town of Jarablus from ISIS militants. Since then, Turkish forces have mainly pushed into areas controlled
by forces aligned to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition
that encompasses the Kurdish YPG militia and which has been backed by
Washington to fight the jihadists.
NATO member Turkey justifies its attack on the US coalition member by claiming that YPG is an extension
of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a
three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast. As we previously reported, a group monitoring the tangled, five-year-old conflict in Syria said 41 people were killed by Turkish air strikes as Turkish forces pushed south on Sunday. Turkey denied there were any civilian deaths, saying 25 Kurdish militants were killed.
Turkish officials say their goal in Syria is to drive out ISIS but also to ensure Kurdish militia fighters do not expand the territory they already control along Turkey’s border.
As a result of today’s verbal condemnation by the US, we expect Erdogan – who continues to hold all the Trump cards over Europe’s future with some 2 million Syrian refugees housed within its borders, and which can be released into Europe on a moment’s notice – to unleash another verbal assault on the US and its western allies, coupled with another Russian pivot threat, to show the Obama administration who is and remains in charge of the latest escalation in the 5 year old Syrian conflict.
Meanwhile, the US will find itself increasingly pressed by its “coalition partners” who will demand justification why some allies remain more equal than other allies, and just how the administration decides why and who gets preferential treatment.