US struggles to maintain two key allies in Syria: Kurds and Turkey

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Kurdish YPG fighters (L), Turkish troops (R). File photo

ARA News

The Pentagon’s top military officer on Thursday underlined that one of the complex challenges the US will face in the future is how to navigate the animosity between the two key US allies in Syria: Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.

It comes as the Trump administration debates plans for an increased military campaign against ISIS and future operations to oust ISIS from Raqqa.

The Turkish government has suggested that the Kurds should be excluded from the Raqqa operation, while the Kurds argue that Turkey should not play a role in northern Syria and consider Turkish intervention as occupation of Syrian territory.

The US military will soon present President Donald Trump with a “full range of options” to defeat the Islamic State group and other jihadist networks in the greater Middle East, the Pentagon’s top military officer General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday at the Brookings Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

“We will talk about the importance of our Turkish ally and making sure our plans are consistent in maintaining a strong alliance with Turkey. We will talk about the implications of the Kurdish challenge in the region,” he said.

“Which is you know not isolated to one particular Kurdish group, but many Kurdish groups that have interests,” he said in a reference to different Kurdish factions such as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) that controls parts of northern Syria and Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Iraqi Kurdistan allied to Turkey that have different interests in the region.

“We talk about complexity of dealing with Turkish versus Iranian interests in the region, presence of Russia, and all of those things,” General Dunford added.

However, the Pentagon’s top military officer said in the end the president of the United States will decide.

General Joseph Dunford met his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on 17 February at NATO’s Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey with talks focused on Washington’s support for Syrian Kurdish militias in the fight against the Islamic State group and the Raqqa operation.

Yesterday Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made a secret trip to northern Syria to visit US military officials and Kurdish fighters in Kobane and to discuss the Raqqa campaign.

McCain also met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım last Monday in Ankara, where the fight against ISIS was also discussed.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Soruce: ARA News

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