Every time the Kurdish YPG makes gains in northern Syria, usually at the expense of ISIS, the US ends up in an awkward position, cheering an ally for gains against ISIS, but also facing a backlash from neighboring Turkey, who objects to the Kurdish growth.
This is continuing again this week, with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford being warned that Turkey believes the Kurds are creating a “corridor” in Aleppo Province, from ISIS-held Jarabulus to al-Qaeda-held Azaz, and that Turkey won’t tolerate this.
Turkey has long declared the Euphrates River a “red line,” and warned the Kurds must never cross it. But with both the US and Russia backing YPG advances against Islamists, they eventually did. Turkish officials are inconsolable about it.
Turkish officials say their concern is for Syrian “territorial integrity,” but as they’ve openly backed Islamist rebels for years that seems unlikely, and rather the primary concern is that age-old Turkish problem, Kurdish secessionist ambitions across the region, including in Turkey.