Recent diplomacy had the US and Turkey agreeing to come up with some sort of deal to avoid direct conflict over the north Syrian city of Manbij. The city is under Kurdish control, with US troops within, and Turkey is threatening to invade it.
Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told Turkish state media Thursday this could see Turkey and the US establishing a “safe zone” around the city. He warned this would only happen if the US “keeps its promises,” and that Turkey considers the US commitment to solve the dispute binding.
A “safe zone” would conceivably prevent the US and Turkish military from fighting one another, at least on paper. In practice, however, it’s not clear it would actually prevent fighting over the city, particularly since Turkey has long considered the Kurdish YPG to be “terrorists” and therefore legitimate targets, even in safe zones.
That’s a big problem because the US is embedded with Kurdish YPG forces in Manbij, and if Turkey starts attacking the Kurds, US troops will quickly come under fire. If that happens, recent history suggests the US will respond with violent retaliation, citing “self defense,’ and still leaving the US and Turkey at risk of fighting one another.