Turkey and the Kurds: It’s more complicated than you think

Turkey and the Kurds: It’s more complicated than you think
A depiction of the safe zone to be patrolled in cooperation by the U.S. and Turkey (fating to July 2019). This is where Turkey proposes to deploy forces. The proposal is for east of the Euphrates. Map graphic credit: The Times (UK).

[Ed. – For added perspective on this complex topic, see our op-ed by Bob Maginnis, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and authority on national security.]

On Monday, President Trump announced that a contingent of fewer than 100 U.S. troops in Syria was being moved away from Kurdish-held territory on the border of Turkey. The move effectively green-lighted military operations by Turkey against the Kurds, which have now commenced.

Some U.S. military officials went public with complaints about being “blindsided.” The policy cannot have been a surprise, though. The president has made no secret that he wants out of Syria, where we now have about 1,000 troops (down from over 2,000 last year). More broadly, he wants our forces out of the Middle East. He ran on that position. I’ve argued against his “endless wars” tropes, but his stance is popular. As for Syria specifically, many of the president’s advisers think we should stay, but he has not been persuaded.

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