Jan 26 2018

Kurds valuable allies, but U.S. musn't lose Turkey – ex-NATO commander

The Kurds are valuable allies in the fight against Islamic State, but the United States' higher priority is keeping Turkey a NATO ally, a Bloomberg columnist wrote.

The United States arms and trains Syrian Kurdish militia -- the People’s Protection Units (YPG) -- for its fight against Islamic State, while Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organisation and accuses the U.S. of undermining its border security.

James Stavridis, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former military commander of NATO, said Turkey’s offensive against the YPG-held southwestern Syrian district of Afrin is based on justifiable concerns.

Washington’s room for manoeuvre is closing between “supporting its erstwhile Kurdish combat partners and not blowing up the relationship with Turkey", Stavridis said.

The White House should publicly recognise Turkey’s security concerns while quietly reassuring Syrian Kurdish militia of long-term U.S. support, Stavridis wrote.

Overall U.S. strategic interest lies in keeping Turkey aligned with NATO and the trans-Atlantic community.  It would be a geopolitical mistake of near-epic proportions to see Turkey drift out of that orbit and end up aligned with Russia and Iran in the Levant.