With reports that the Turkish government is considering expelling US forces from the Incirlik Airbase over the lack of military support from the US in the Turkish invasion of al-Bab, US officials say they are “baffled,” and that Turkey has actually turned down US air support.
US officials made much of a military overflight last week, in which multiple US planes flew over al-Bab, but didn’t do anything, as “a show of force,” and offered further support in al-Bab, though it’s unclear what this amounted to beyond more overflights.
Turkey has instead gotten military support from Russia, who US official say has conducted “multiple” airstrikes against ISIS forces around al-Bab. Russia’s actual air support appears to dramatically undercut the US presentation of overflights as support.
This has the Obama Administration once again competing with Russia, and losing. The Erdogan government appears to be conscious of this, and is playing up the idea that Turkey believes they’ll get better support from the incoming Trump Administration.
Turkish officials are said to be in talks with the Trump transition team over Syria, though indications are that the Trump Administration will shift policy in Syria away from support for rebel factions, like the Turkish-backed rebels, and instead in favor of fighting ISIS.