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Can the US prevent a Turkish attack on Rojava?

By ROJ ELI ZALLA 14/12/2018
Andrew Gabel on The Washington Perspective. Photo: Rudaw
Andrew Gabel on The Washington Perspective. Photo: Rudaw
The United States has a lot of tools in its belt to deter Turkish aggression in northern Syria, argued Andrew Gabel, research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

“The US really does have real powerful tools at its disposal to convince [Turkish President] Erdogan that it’s serious about protecting the integrity of east Syria, beyond simple phone calls and beyond letters and beyond empty words,” he said in The Washington Perspective programme. 

On the ground, the US has several options, he explained, essentially physically putting American forces in between Turkey and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). 

It could establish US outposts around the flashpoint towns like Manbij and Tal Abyad, essentially setting up a “quarantine” that would ensure Turkish troops cannot advance. Or, more aggressively, the US could take up positions inside these towns. 

Washington could also take aim at its broader relationship with Turkey. 

One option would be sanctions – a favourite tactic of President Donald Trump’s administration. 

“I think if the Trump administration threatened to designate certain Turkish businesses or certain Turkish individuals as recourse for moving the Turkish military into east Syria, this probably would catch the attention of President Erdogan, especially given the recent economic difficulties in Turkey,” said Gabel. 

Another option is the F35. Turkey is in line to receive 100 of the state-of-the-art jets and Trump could easily sideline this as Congress is already uncomfortable with giving the technology to Turkey. 

Washington could also exacerbate Turkey’s economic woes by leveraging the waiver it gave Ankara on Iranian sanctions, he argued.  

The challenge lies in putting Erdogan in the position where he has to weigh risk versus reward. Is it better for him to push ahead with a military offensive or to back off. 

The US could alter the equation so that the risk “greatly outweighs” the reward, argued Gabel. 


pre-Boomer Marine brat | 15/12/2018
In mid-Dec. 2018, with the Dems set to take control of the House, Erdogan is assuming that Trump has far too much on his mind, that short-attention-span, USA-populist Trump won't be serious about restraining Turkey in Syria ... We shall have to see, but I suspect Erdogan's right.
Hama | 15/12/2018
All of this is build on the false premise that US is actually interested in protecting Kurds in the first place. What happens when ISIS is defeated? Will America stay in Syria like any reasonable government, ready to intervene and invest in long term strategic goals to benefit both west and middle east: for example prevent wars and stop immigration and terrorist groups in return? No ofcourse not. America and entire west is ruled by right wing populists and left wing pacifists, both against all forms of interventions yet alone long term investing because as long as it's not happening in front of you it's okay. You cannot trust them. The only way to protect kurds in Syria is for PKK to learn from KRG's long experience in maintaining good relations with Turkey and AT LEAST share power with other kurdish parties who are capeable of diplomacy with Turkey and prevent and all-out invasion.
Kamu | 15/12/2018
Yes in theorie the US can also nuke Turkey....The real question here to ask is, if the US is ready to loose Turkey and push it further to the Russia/Iran Camp for YPG???
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