Syria: Showdown In Raqqa To Begin In June

Syria: Showdown In Raqqa To Begin In June

Senator Joni Ernst is applauding the Trump Administration's decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan castigated the United States for siding with "terrorist organizations" against Ankara, and his spokesman called the move "unacceptable".

The SDF, a multi-ethnic group which includes Kurdish fighters and Syrian Arab Coalition (SAC) fighters, had been battling Islamic State for weeks in Tabqa, about 40 kilometers west of Raqqa, with the help of coalition airstrikes and us special forces advisers.

Regarding "terrorists", the US and Turkey do not see eye-to-eye.

Jonathan Schanzer, of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says: "The Turks see this as a crisis in the relationship".

The challenge is hardly new. But the US sees the YPG as effective partners on the ground in their fight against ISIL.

Past administrations have sought a delicate balance.

Before his meeting with Mattis, Yildirim had warned that "there is still an opportunity for the United States to take Turkey's sensitivities into consideration".

It's unclear what country was the source of Trump's intelligence.

The SDF, an alliance of militias including Arab groups and the Kurdish YPG militia, has been waging a campaign to isolate and ultimately capture Raqqa city since November, with backing from the US -led coalition. Turkey has been pressuring the drop support for the militants and doesn't want them spearheading an operation to retake IS' self-declared capital of Raqqa. On Wednesday, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, "Both the PKK and the YPG are terrorist organizations, and they are no different, apart from their names".

So why didn't we arm the Kurds earlier? Therefore, the United States president's decision to supply heavy weapons to the Syrian Kurds was a cold shower for the leadership of Turkey.

But with Iran and Russian Federation working to bolster Assad's government, the Trump administration is turning to regional allies, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for help as it crafts its Syria policy. The opposition has suggested that Erdoğan should have canceled the meeting with Trump.

On the Gulen matter, Erdogan is expected to discuss some interim steps that his government has already asked for, such as Justice Department questioning of the cleric and restrictions on his US movements while the extradition request is pending, or at least an effort to curtail the weekly video messages he sends to his followers in Turkey.

If Erdogan fails to solve at least one of these two vital for Turkey's national security issues at the meeting with Trump, it will become another round of strengthening anti-Americanism in Turkish society. Turkey has demanded that Washington sever its cooperation with the YPG and extradite Fethullah Gülen, the self-exiled Islamic cleric who resides in Pennsylvania and whom the Turkish government accuses of masterminding the failed coup attempt of July 2016.

"I see this trip as a new milestone in Turkey-U.S. relations", Erdogan said, as he prepared to fly to Washington. The U.S. military uses the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey for attacks on IS positions in neighboring Syria. The zeal and obstinacy of Turkey's official authorities, Recep Tayyip Erdogan's harsh remarks towards the USA leadership on this issue only fuel the already strained relations between the two countries and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners.

How many more USA troops will America ask to lay their lives on the line for these gains? Much like his predecessor, Trump has stated his desire to stay away from nation-building overseas. Trump's premise has been that he is focusing on deal-making.



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