Is the US Turkey’s friend, foe or both at the same time?

Turkey’s most recent military campaign ‘Operation Olive Branch’ that launched on the 20th of January 2018 has caused some major backlash vis-à-vis its objective.

The international community, as well as Western media outlets, have jumped to the conclusion that Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation in Afrin is nothing more than a strategic move to display Turkish hard power. These fallacious assumptions not only misrepresent the objective of Operation Olive Branch but also challenge Turkey’s right to defend its territorial sovereignty.

Operation Olive Branch was given the green light by the Turkish Armed Forces after the U.S. revealed plans to set up a 30,000 person ‘Border Security Force’ that comprises of YPG militants in Syria. This came as a massive slap in the face to Turkey, as the U.S. being Turkey’s long-time allies, have themselves acknowledged the link that exists between the PKK-PYD and the YPG. Not only did the US Defence Chief, Ash Carter, admit that the PYD and their armed group, the YPG, have links to the PKK, but have also officially recognised the PKK as a foreign terrorist organisation. It is imperative to question why the U.S. has fallen short on promises made to Turkey; could it be that the U.S is looking to hold on to what little power and influence they have left in Syria? It seems as though the only strategy left for the U.S. as to maintain a presence in Syria is to back groups that pose grave challenges to their ally.

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