After years of piecemeal US military operations vaguely advancing ill-defined goals, the American position in Syria, and its vast collection of allies and enemies is so inscrutable that the State Department tried, and failed, to clarify what the US position actually is.
President Trump is being described as downright confounded about what to do about the Turkish invasion of Syria earlier this week, which sees the NATO member nation sending troops into Afrin District to attack the US-backed Kurdish YPG forces there.
In the immediate term, the US can, and largely has, chosen to ignore this and urge calm, though with US troops embedded in Kurdish territory elsewhere in Syria, including Manbij, Turkey’s talk of expanding the invasion would quickly put them in the line of fire.
It’s not as if this problem is a sudden surprise. Turkey’s been threatening the Kurds for years, and has been complaining about the US backing the Kurds more or less constantly in that same period of time.
Publicly, the US has long dismissed Turkish concerns, backed the Kurds, and assumed the situation would blow over. Now that it’s come to a Turkish invasion, US officials don’t appear to have any particular strategy on how to deal with this growing war.
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