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Re: US warns new Turkiye military operation into Syria would threaten regional stability

1 month ago 12
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The United States has warned that a new Turkish military operation into northern Syria would cause regional instability, threatening to condemn such a move and escalation of conflict.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, stated that "We are deeply concerned about reports and discussions of potential increased military activity in northern Syria and, in particular, its impact on the civilian population there."

The statement came after Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced on Monday that Ankara would launch a new military offensive into northern Syria in an effort to further push back the Kurdish militant group, the People's Protection Units (YPG), and secure the 30km 'safe zone' to settle at least one million Syrian refugees who reside in Turkiye.

The Turkish government views the YPG and other affiliated Kurdish militias, such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as terrorist groups due to their alleged direct links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a designated terrorist organisation operating within Turkiye and the region.

Despite Ankara's concerns about the militias across the border in Syria posing a national security threat, the US and its military has been closely working with, and backing, the YPG and SDF throughout the past five years in order to combat the terror group Daesh.

"We recognise Turkiye's legitimate security concerns on Turkiye's southern border, but any new offensive would further undermine regional stability and put at risk US forces and the coalition's campaign against ISIS [Daesh]", Price said.

READ: US' support for Kurdish groups is biggest problem for Turkey, DM says

He also called on Turkiye to abide by a joint statement made in October 2019, which established a ceasefire and reportedly guaranteed a halt to military operations and offensives in north-east Syria. "We condemn any escalation. We support maintenance of the current ceasefire lines," the spokesperson said.

Despite those calls, the US has itself failed to achieve the pledges it gave that the YPG and SDF would withdraw 30km from the Turkish border to make space for the safe zone.

According to the news agency, Reuters, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, said that the threat to relaunch a military offensive – after three previous offensives – in north-east Syria is part of Erdogan's strategy to test his fellow NATO allies and pressure them to accommodate to Turkish foreign policy interests.

"Erdoğan's style of meeting international challenges is upping the ante – and it almost always works in causing NATO allies to blink," she said. "It worked in the eastern Mediterranean and in Syria in the past – why not try again."

If Ankara does indeed launch a fresh military offensive across the border into Syria, it may not fare well for its relations with Washington, which have only just started to improve. Under the administration of former US President Donald Trump, who Erdogan built a rapport with, Turkiye seemed to be able to make such moves without too many crippling consequences.

Under the current administration of President Joe Biden, however, there is little of that rapport or understanding, leading many to believe that Turkiye may be subject to heavier sanctions by the US and other Western nations. Such measures would come only weeks after the UK lifted its arms export bans off Turkey, which Canada reportedly is also considering.

READ: Canada accused of 'arming apartheid' in new campaign to stop arms sales to Israel

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