In the aftermath of President Trump’s decision to pull US troops out of northern Syria, Turkish troops have entered the country to do battle against Kurdish militias. This new development now means that US-funded Syrian rebel groups are fighting alongside Turkish forces against US-funded Kurdish troops who are about to ally themselves with Syrian government forces. If that doesn’t indicate the ever-changing alliances of the Middle East and the impossibility of the US ever being able to achieve peace and stability there, who knows what would.
It’s hard for the US to criticize Turkey, despite the US love affair with the Kurds. Turkey is doing to Syria what the US did to Iraq, Libya, and Syria, invading a foreign country to achieve its own foreign policy aims. Only this time Turkey is Syria’s neighbor, which isn’t quite as bad as US troops flying halfway around the world to invade a country that isn’t a threat.
Turkey has also sought to forestall criticism of its actions by threatening to release millions of Syrian refugees into Europe if the EU or US criticize its military campaign. That has Europe on edge, as the countries of the EU are still dealing with the effects of the 2015 migration crisis. Welfare systems are increasingly burdened, crime is on the rise, and many European citizens don’t feel safe leaving their homes at night for fear of being robbed, raped, or killed.
Erdogan’s threat is obviously intended to keep Europe in line, but will it work, or is it even necessary? Rumors are that Russia will attempt to broker an agreement between Syria, Turkey, and the Kurds, so we’ll have to see what comes of that. It would certainly be ironic if, after years of pointless fighting, everything were to come together peacefully as a result of Russian negotiations. But peaceful negotiation should have been the name of the game all along, rather than the pointless US invasion of yet another country.