Thursday, October 10, 2019

Trump's Turkish caper proves U. S. to be a dangerous ally

Not just unreliable but downright dangerous. With friends like these …

Background: NY Times reports Turkey Launches Offensive Against U.S.-Backed Syrian Militia.

Turkey launched a ground and air assault on Wednesday against a Syrian militia that has been a crucial American ally in the fight against ISIS, days after President Trump agreed to let the operation proceed.

As Turkish warplanes bombed Syrian towns and troops crossed the border, the chaos in Washington continued, with President Trump issuing seemingly contradictory policy statements in the face of strident opposition from his Republican allies in Congress.

Mr. Trump acquiesced to the Turkish operation in a call with Turkey’s president on Sunday, agreeing to move American troops out of Turkey’s way despite opposition from his own State Department and military.

On Wednesday, hours after the operation began, he condemned it, calling it “a bad idea.”

By that time, Turkish fighter jets were streaking through the sky over Syrian towns, while artillery shells boomed overhead. Traffic was jammed with terrified civilians fleeing south in trucks piled high with possessions and children.

Fact #1: Kurds were valuable allies in war against ISIS.

A military coalition led by the United States teamed up with a Kurdish militia beginning in 2015 to fight Islamic State extremists who had seized a territory that was the size of Britain and spanned the Syrian-Iraqi border. That militia grew into the Syrian Democratic Forces, which led the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and eventually took control of the areas it liberated.

Fact #2: American military provides support to Turkish attack on the Kurds.

The United States military, which had been working with the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight remnants of the Islamic State in Syria, has cut off all support to the militia, two American military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential military assessments.

The officials said the United States was not providing support to Turkey either, but for the last few weeks, as Turkish military officials planned the assault, they received American surveillance video and information from reconnaissance aircraft. The information may have helped them track Kurdish positions.

One official said that United States warplanes and surveillance aircraft remained in the area to defend the remaining American ground forces in northeast Syria, but said they would not contest Turkish warplanes attacking Kurdish positions.

Trump’s acquiescence triggered another humanitarian crisis. Thursday morning news reports that Kurd civilians are running to escape the Turkish invasion but they have nowhere to go. Is this ethnic cleansing unfolding?

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