Syrian Impasse: America Between Turkey and the Kurds
February 9, 2018
11:30 am -
FDD hosted a conversation on Friday, February 9, 2018, with Aliza Marcus, author of Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence; Gonul Tol, founding director of the Turkey Program at the Middle East Institute; and Amberin Zaman, columnist for Al-Monitor and Diken. Merve Tahiroglu, research analyst at FDD, moderated the conversation.
Turkish forces forayed into northern Syria in January, for a second time in two years. As in the previous Turkish campaign, Ankara’s military operation in Afrin aims at clearing Turkey’s southern border of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — America’s tactical ally and effective ground force against the Islamic State in Syria. Turkey insists that the YPG poses an existential threat to its national security, and expects the United States to sever its ties with the group as the Syrian civil war approaches its post-Islamic State phase. Washington, however, hopes to maintain a longer presence in Syria to check Russian and Iranian ambitions, and the Syrian Kurds remain Washington’s most formidable local ally. Carried out with Moscow’s green light, the Turkish offensive will complicate Washington’s Syria policy as well as its relations with its NATO-ally Ankara.
What is Turkey’s end-game with the Afrin campaign? What options does Washington have to manage the impasse? What say the Kurds?