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Turkey is the wrong ally at the wrong time in the fight against ISIS

By in Press Enterprise on February 13, 2018

By The Editorial Board

Sometimes when there’s bad news you just have to grit your teeth and bear it. Unfortunately, that’s what the U.S. has to do when it comes to the Syrian intervention underway from our erstwhile NATO ally Turkey.

The good news is, Turkey’s meddlesome ambitions are sharply constrained — not just by the U.S. and its allies, but by America’s adversaries, too.

Turkey, which continues to lurch further into authoritarianism and nostalgia for its bygone Ottoman Empire, recently chose to exploit the messy situation in Syria in hopes of gaining a big military advantage. The Kurds, who alone managed to break the back of the Islamic State in Syria, recently gained enough territory along the border to prompt an open-ended incursion against them by the Turks. That’s clearly bad news for the U.S. Open conflict between a non-NATO ally and a NATO ally is perilous enough. But Turkey has moved sharply away from the liberal West, growing closer to the likes of Russia, which is also now deeply enmeshed in Syria. Beyond the challenges involved in trying to “deconflict” American and Turkish forces, despite both sharing a formal military alliance, the U.S. faces the embarrassing prospect of having to array its military strategy against that of a NATO member army.

Unfortunately, there’s little the U.S. can do to stop the Turks — at least until, and if, the Turks come up against U.S. forces themselves. Ankara talks a big game, confident that its campaign against the Kurds will retain enough legitimacy because of its longstanding internal conflict with Kurdish guerillas and terrorists. But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently made a show of demanding that American troops leave the strategic town of Manbij, and the U.S. won’t back down, with brass on the ground insisting the city must be held to keep ISIS from coming […]    

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