Feb 08 2018

Manbij "extraordinarily dangerous and volatile" - Turkey expert Reynolds

Ahval discussed the diplomatic crisis between Turkey and its NATO ally, the United States, over Turkey's ongoing Operation Olive Branch, with the Princeton associate professor Michael A. Reynolds.

The operation targets People's Protection Units (YPG) forces in the northwest Syrian area of Afrin. Turkey considers the YPG terrorists, the United States, however, sees them as crucial allies.

Turkey has threatened to attack the nearby region of Manbij next, which would potentially lead them to a direct confrontation with U.S. forces posted there.

Michael A. Reynolds is associate professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, expertise areas are including Ottoman and Russia/Eurasia history.

Reynolds stated that in third week of Afrin operation, it appears to be very much inconclusive operation. 

On the question of Manbij, Reynolds stated that American officials appear to be much more aggressive against the Turkish position, rather than accommodating Turkish concerns.

This is precisely the message generals gave on Wednesday, said Reynolds: "dont you dare strike us."

"This is extraordinarily dangerous and volatile situation" that shows "both American and Turkish sides are escalating in both rhetoric and military deployments," said the professor.

According to Reynolds, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster may take a message to Ankara to intimidate Ankara with regards to Manbij.

Reynolds said he hoped to see a message of a far more cooperative nature. However, he says he does not see evidence of either side pursuing a strategy to grapple these important issues at the moment.