Jan 24 2018

U.S. “look like fools” in misreading Turkey on Syria, ex-envoy

The United States completely misread Turkey’s intentions to attack the Kurds in Syria despite repeated warnings.

“We constantly look like fools to everybody,” James Jeffrey, who was ambassador to Turkey between 2008 and 2010, told Vox’s Alex Ward.

Washington itself laid the groundwork for Turkey’s assault on Kurdish militants by announcing it would train a 30,000-strong border force and would keep U.S. troops in Syria indefinitely to deal with Islamic State and weaken Iran’s influence. Turkey vehemently opposed both moves.

“Ankara saw an opening and took it,” according to Aaron Stein, an analyst at the Atlantic Council think tank, Vox said.

A visit to Moscow by the Turkish military chief of staff, Hulusi Akar, was the clearest sign that Turkey intended to carry out its threat to deal with Kurds it said are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is recognised as a terrorist group by the United States and European Union. Russia controls the airspace over Syria.

Perhaps the Trump administration did not believe Turkey’s rhetoric, but the attack proves otherwise, Ward said.

“People should take Erdogan seriously,” according to Stein.

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