The US Trump administration is warning Turkey to “tread carefully” in its military offensive in northern Syria, alarmed that the two NATO member states could end up in open conflict.
President Trump and his Pentagon chief James Mattis both issued stern calls this week to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging “restraint” as Ankara pushes ahead with its military incursion near the town of Afrin.
Turkey rebuffed the White House’s rebuke, insisting it is not slowing down, aiming to move its troops further west to take the town of Manbij from Syrian Kurdish fighters.
That is where the Americans have a sizable troop presence in support of the Kurdish YPG militia. Turkey claims the YPG are “terrorists”, whereas Washington claims that the Kurds are a useful proxy force against Islamic State terrorists.
Ankara’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu asserted: “Terrorists in Manbij [Kurdish YPG] are constantly firing provocative shots. If the US doesn’t stop them, we will.”
The New York Times cautioned that an assault on Manbij “could bring Turkish forces into direct conflict with American troops stationed there, with unpredictable results.”
Hence, Trump and other Washington officials are issuing grave injunctions to Ankara to step back.
The morass of two NATO members on the cusp of war takes on an almost surreal facet when one considers that American and Turkish warplanes are taking off from the same NATO airbase at Incirlik in southern Turkey.
One wonders too, ironically, how NATO’s Article V would work in this bizarre scenario whereby a NATO member calls on the other 27 nations in the military alliance to defend it if it comes under attack – from another NATO member!
The burlesque situation is worthy of the satirical anti-war novel Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.
However, the chaotic mess is far from amusing. It could ignite a full-scale war embroiling Syria, Russia and Iran…………more here