Overnight, Turkish warplanes entered Syria, attacking US-backed Kurdish forces. Turkey reported 200 Kurdish fighters killed, though the Kurds insisted the number was somewhat lower. Either way, the US response to an overt attack on their allies was tepid, to put it mildly.
While the State Department refused direct comment on the attacks and would only say they prefer to see the two groups both fighting against ISIS, Defense Secretary Ash Carter followed up on the attack by insisting that the US partnership with Turkey is “very strong.”
With Turkey both a NATO member and hosting the US warplanes active in Syria, naturally the ability of the US to criticize them is limited, but Turkey appeared to have no such compunctions, with Deputy PM Numaan Kurtulmus declaring that Turkey is “displeased” with the US for its long-standing support for the Syrian Kurds.
Kurtulmus centered his comments on the upcoming US election, expressing hope that whoever is elected president in November would understand that retaining close ties with Turkey means not backing “an armed terrorist organization” like the Kurdish YPG.
Turkey has repeatedly chastised the US for supporting the Kurds, and when Turkey invaded Syria in August, it was clear that one of their goals was direct conflict with those same Kurdish forces, despite some US objections to that idea.
As last night’s strike demonstrates, however, US “support” for the Kurds dries up pretty quickly when push comes to shove, and if anyone is going to prevent further Turkish strikes on the Kurds, it won’t be the US.
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