Apr 04 2018

U.S. should oppose Turkish plans to confront YPG – analysis

The United States should oppose Turkish plans to extend an operation against fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria’s Afrin to other parts of the country’s northern region, said Romany Shaker, research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled that he plans to expand the scope of the operation to Ayn al-Arab, Ras al-Ain, and Tal Abyad. He has also rejected a French offer to mediate with the YPG, which Turkey says is indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an autonomy-seeking militant Kurdish group in Turkey.

Turkey invaded Syria in January to confront the YPG, which has been a key ally of the United States in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS). U.S. troops are stationed in nearby Manbij, where they train and equip members of the Syrian Defence Forces (SDF), of which the YPG is a part.

 “Since the Turkish campaign undercuts the coalition’s efforts to crush the Islamic State, the U.S. should make its opposition clear,” Shaker said. “That can be done through the resumption of talks designed to address Turkey’s valid concerns about the PKK without causing further instability in a volatile region."

Washington, however, should show no tolerance toward any plans by Turkey to push onto Manbij, Shaker said.

“While the U.S. should prioritize diplomacy, it should not tolerate an ally’s threat to the presence of U.S. troops in Syria.”