US takes sides in Turkey-Kurdish clash in Syria

Over the last several years, the US has had a close, cooperative relationship with the Kurdish militia, the YPG, in Syria. Along with other Arab militias, the YPG helped drive ISIS out of Syria and Iraq.

Bu the chaos in Syria has allowed the YPG to carve out a fairly substantial territory along the Turkish border. This has not sat well with Turkish President Erdogan who considers the YPG terrorists.

The YPG militia group has not carried out any attacks inside of Turkey, although their fellow Kurds in the PKK - the Kurdish Workers Party - have been conducting a low level rebellion in Turkey for years.

Erdogan has chosen to regard the YPG as no better than the PKK, despite US support. That support is now being withdrawn, according to the government in Ankara, as Erdogan has extracted a promise from the US not supply the YPG with weapons.


Turkey said Saturday that Washington has pledged to stop giving arms to YPG Kurdish forces in Syria, as Turkey's offensive against the U.S.-backed group there enters its eight day.

Turkey's presidency said in a statement that U. S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster spoke Friday with Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. McMaster confirmed in the phone conversation that the U.S. would not give weapons to the YPG militia, the statement said. There has been no U.S. confirmation.

Relations between the two NATO allies have been strained by Turkey's offensive and Washington's arms support to the YPG.

On Friday, Erdogan repeated his intention to expand Ankara's military operation against Kurds in Syria, targeting fighters he says are linked to a Kurdish terror group that operates in Turkey.

Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan said Turkish forces will push eastward into the Syrian city of Afrin, just beyond the border with Turkey. He said he intends to push the operation to the city of Manbij and then as far east as the Iraqi border "until no terrorist is left."

The move could pit Turkish forces against some of the 2,000 U.S. troops that are in Syria as part of an international coalition to eliminate the Islamic State militant movement in Syria.

"We will clear Manbij of terrorists," Erdogan said in a speech Friday. "No one should be disturbed by this because the real owners of Manbij are not these terrorists, they are our Arab brothers."

Both Syria and Russia are warning Erdogan about his incursion into Syria. Neither is likely to take action as long as Erdogan limits his war to the border area.

But Turkey has been threatening areas where US troops are based and Erdogan, already on thin ice with Washington, would not want to anger Trump by killing Americans. After all, we may fight back.

But the issue of arming the Kurds is a delicate one and the decision to cut them off was actually a no brainer. Turkey is a NATO member and it would shake the alliance if the US were to supply an army that Turkey feels is an enemy threatening their security. 

When push comes to shove, whether in Iraq, Syria, or Turkey, when it comes to the Kurds, the US has bowed to the wishes of the governments where Kurdish territory is located. We have made it abundantly clear over the years and several administrations that Kurds looking for a friend in their fight for a homeland will have to look elsewhere when it comes to the US.