Turkish pro-govt think tank head calls for U.S. strike on Syrian govt. forces

The United States could do more for Syria’s last rebel stronghold Idlib, including strikes on critical bases of the Syrian government, director for Turkish think-tank Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) Burhanettin Duran wrote for pro-government daily Sabah on Friday.

The United States, as well as the EU and NATO, have commented on Turkey’s retaliation against the Syrian regime forces killing 13 Turkish soldiers last week, Duran said, while Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar called for “serious and concrete support for the solution of the Idlib crisis.”

“There are many things Washington cold do if it wanted to,” Duran said, “from the public’s support to weapons aid for the opposition, from striking critical regime bases to putting forth new proposals for Turkey’s safety.”

The United States’ mistaken Syria policies have led Turkey to working closer with Russia, but a show of initiative by Washington could lead to improved relations between the two allies and increased U.S. influence in Syria, Duran said. 

“Let us not forget that U.S. policies have allowed Russia to expand its influence in the Middle East and North Africa since Obama’s term,” Duran said.

Tensions between the two NATO allies have been running high due to the U.S. supporting the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey considers to be a threat to its national security, as well as Turkey’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems and efforts in the Mediterranean that have put the country at odds with key U.S. allies.

“How many backtracks has it been?” asked journalist İslam Özkan in a tweet, referring to Duran’s previous opposition to the United States.