World Biden faces test as Turkey prepares new attack on Syrian Kurds

13:55  23 october  2021
13:55  23 october  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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In January 2018, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch. It was designed to capture and ethnically cleanse the Afrin District of northern Syria. In October 2019, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to control, via Turkey’s Arab proxies, the population centers from around Tell Abyad to Ras al-Ayn. Get ready for incursion No. 3.

  Biden faces test as Turkey prepares new attack on Syrian Kurds © Provided by Washington Examiner

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan justifies the looming offensive as a response to a rocket attack that killed two Turkish policemen. Those officers were acting as occupation authorities in Syria’s Azaz region, north of Aleppo. Turkey appears to blame the incident on the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) operating near Tel Rifaat, which the YPG captured in 2016.

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In recent days, Erdogan’s government has reportedly signaled to both Moscow and Washington that it wants to launch a new attack. Turkey’s state-controlled press hint that Turkey seeks to move 20 miles into Syria in order to drive the YPG from Manbij, Qamishli, and Kobane. That latter city is where the YPG broke the Islamic State’s siege and turned the tide of the war against the self-declared caliphate.

While neither President Vladimir Putin nor President Joe Biden has approved the operation in the manner that President Donald Trump and his envoy James Jeffrey did in 2019, Turkey appears undeterred. Russian forces have reportedly evacuated some of their positions in Syria in case Turkey makes its move.

Biden may face within days his first major test in the Middle East. What is at issue, after all, has never been terrorism. The Turks are hard-pressed to back their accusations of cross-border Kurdish terrorism with evidence. Turkey’s currency, meanwhile, is in free fall, as is what remains of Erdogan’s popularity. True to form, the Turkish leader appears now to take a page out of the distraction playbook of Argentine military dictator Leopoldo Galtieri, who ordered the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982, and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who in 1990 ordered the invasion of Kuwait.

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  The US must expel Turkey's ambassador Secretary of State Antony Blinken should declare Turkish ambassador Serdar Kılıç persona non grata. © (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool) Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his ruling party members, in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 26, 2019. Erdogan says Turkey is determined to destroy what he called a "terror corridor" in northern Syrian regardless of whether or not Turkey and the United States agree on the establishment of a safe zone. Turkish and U.S. officials have been holding talks for a safe zone east of the river Euphrates to address Turkey's security concerns.

The mismanagement by the Argentine and Iraqi dictators bankrupted their countries. Both the Argentine peso and Iraqi dinar were devalued to the point of worthlessness. Both leaders nevertheless harbored delusions of grandeur and sought to use nationalism to distract their public from the looming implosion of their economies. Adding to Erdogan’s current adventurism is the looming centenary of modern Turkey’s founding — oh, and the fact that the West has excused, turned a blind eye to, and even encouraged past Turkish aggression.

While Biden has positioned himself as the anti-Trump, he may shortly need to decide if he will repeat Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds, an action that led to the resignations of Defense Secretary James Mattis and then-Special Envoy (and now Biden national security aide) Brett McGurk. Given McGurk’s public statements in the wake of the Trump betrayal, it would be difficult for McGurk to remain in the administration and to retain moral credibility, though ambition may lead him to try. The alternative strategy for Biden would be for him to redouble aid and assistance to the Kurds and perhaps even enhance the American military presence in the region, an action Biden appears unprepared to order.

Biden Leaves Afghanistan, Pulls Back in Iraq, But U.S. Troops Fight On in Syria

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Biden’s inner circle may continue to spin the recent Afghanistan disaster as inevitable if not wise, but it was neither. They may also believe that what happens in Afghanistan stays in Afghanistan, but it does not. Autocrats are attracted to American weakness the way flies are to honey. The perception that America is weak, combined with Erdogan’s ego and domestic problems, suggests a perfect storm is brewing.

Michael Rubin (@Mrubin1971) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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Tags: Opinion, Beltway Confidential, Blog Contributors, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey, Kurds

Original Author: Michael Rubin

Original Location: Biden faces test as Turkey prepares new attack on Syrian Kurds

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