The United States is in a very dangerous position at the moment.
NATO ally Turkey has attacked another ally, Syrian Kurds.
Since then, most aggression has been centered around the city of Afrin.
Both Turkey and Syrian Kurdish forces are allies in the U.S.’s fight against ISIS. Last October, Syrian Kurdish fighters helped the US take Raqqa, the Syrian city ISIS considered its caliphate capital.
However, complicating the situation more, last week the US announced military forces would remain in Syria indefinitely to help train a Kurdish-led border force to protect against ISIS and resist Iran’s increasing influence in the region.
Turkey opposed this and is believed to have seized the opportunity to engage in a long-sought strike against the Kurds.
Aaron Stein, a Turkey expert at the Atlantic Council think tank, said:
“Ankara [the Turkish capital] saw an opening and took it.”
This leaves the United States in a precarious–and potentially inflammatory–situation: try not to provoke Turkey any further while still supporting Kurdish allies.
But Turkey’s attack should not come as a surprise seeing as it repeatedly warned Washington of its intentions.
Turkey objected after President Donald Trump announced in May his decision to arm Syrian Kurds.
Turkish officials then advised the United States it planned to attack Kurds, but restrained itself to provide the U.S. time to reconsider–though an attack was “imminent.”
This means the Trump administration either ignored those warnings or simply dismissed them.
James Jeffrey, Turkish ambassador from 2008 to 2010, said:
“We constantly look like fools to everybody.”
“Turkey will suffocate this terror army before it’s born. Our preparations have been completed. The operation is due to start any moment. After that, other regions will follow.”
On January 18, one day after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the indefinite U.S. presence in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the Turkish military would continue its preparations for an assault.
If that wasn’t serious enough, Turkey’s military chief of staff, Hulusi Akar, obtained Russian permission to go forward with the strike because Russia holds military control of Afrin area skies.
Aaron Stein warns:
“People should take Erdoğan seriously.”
It should come as no surprise, but since Donald Trump took office one year ago, the world’s confidence in America’s leadership has declined.
According to a new Gallup poll, the United States now ranks below China in worldwide approval ratings.
Under former president Barack Obama, that rating was 48%.
America’s standing collapsed by 10 or more percentage points in just under half the world’s countries, with some of the biggest losses coming from allies in western Europe, Australia, and Latin America.
With a decline in confidence comes also a decline in security.
History shows wars have begun over less than Turkey’s aggression.
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