What’s Behind Turkey’s Attack on Syria’s Kurds

What’s Behind Turkey’s Attack on Syria’s Kurds by Sewell Chan – New York Times

Over the weekend, Turkish troops launched an aerial and ground assault on American-allied Kurdish militias in Syria. Here is what you need to know.

Aren’t the U.S. and Turkey friends?

Only to a point. As NATO allies, they are obliged to come to each other’s aid in the event of an attack. The United States is an important supplier of arms and military aid to Turkey, and has used Turkey’s Incirlik air base as part of its campaign against the Islamic State in neighboring Syria.

But relations have cooled as Turkey has taken an authoritarian turn under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, its de facto leader since 2003…

What is Turkey trying to do?

Hold back the Kurds, who since 2012 have effectively governed an area of northern Syria they call Rojava. The Turks want to prevent the Kurds from gaining control over a contiguous sliver of land connecting enclaves, including the towns of Afrin in the northwest, Kobani in north-central Syria and Qamishli in the northeast….

How did the Kurds end up in the middle of all this?

The Kurds have been one of the United States’ most effective allies in the fight against ISIS, and the implosion of authority in Syria in 2011, and in Iraq in 2003, revived the aspirations of a people often described as the world’s largest stateless nation.

ISIS, a mostly Sunni movement, considers Kurds and Shiites apostates and heretics. The Kurds have also recruited, trained and promoted women as fighters, a rare sight in the Middle East…

Is this bad for the United States?

Yes, but it’s partly Washington’s fault for pursuing an anti-ISIS strategy that set up the Turkish-Kurdish time bomb that is now going off…

Read on.

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