U.S. generals have hijacked Syria policy – Daily Sabah

U.S. President Donald Trump has surrendered his country’s foreign policy to a cabal of U.S. general “war lords”, who are intent on pursuing former president Barack Obama’s objective of arming Kurdish groups in Syria, the pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday.

The newspaper said that this subordination of political decisions to military officers was down to Trump’s choice of a military-heavy cabinet, warning that “Turkey has a history of power-hungry generals seeing themselves as guardians of the country and the U.S. is well-advised not to repeat it.”

“A rogue Pentagon ignoring its commander-in-chief seems to be pushing the U.S. deeper into the Syrian quagmire and destroying the country's ties with its NATO ally Turkey,” said the Daily Sabah.

This policy, and Trump’s “cluelessness” in allowing it to take root, explain the rising trend of anti-U.S. public opinion in Turkey, according to the editorial.

“And then come American pundits wondering why anti-American sentiment is on the rise in Turkey,” it said. “Let's clue you in. When irresponsible politicians constantly lie, soldiers arm terrorists and issue threats, there are going to be consequences.”

Turkey launched a military incursion, Operation Olive Branch, into the northwest Syrian area of Afrin on Jan. 20 to fight the mainly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it considers the Syrian wing of the terrorist-designated Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

The operation has put Turkey on a collision course with the United States, which considers the YPG indispensable allies in the fight against extremist jihadist elements in Syria. The crisis could turn to outright confrontation if Ankara fulfils its vow to extend the fight to Manbij, an area in northern Syria where U.S. troops have been deployed.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Ankara to discuss these issues on a tour of the Middle East next week, the State Department announced yesterday.

However, the earlier visit of Trump’s National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, indicates the United States’ confusion over who holds the reins of foreign policy, said the Daily Sabah.

Moreover, Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk’s visit to Manbij on Wednesday to declare continued U.S. support for its allies in the area was further damning evidence of Trump’s failure as a strategist, according to the Daily Sabah.

“The day it was announced that U.S.'s top diplomat, Tillerson, was coming to Turkey, a buffoon of a soldier visits terrorist bases in Manbij and threatens Turkey,” said the editorial.