The U.S. Decision to Leave Syria Further Erodes Relations With Turkey

MIN READJan 23, 2019 | 15:07 GMT

Members of the U.S.-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units carry a wounded Kurdish fighter to a field hospital near the northern Syrian village of Raqqa Samra on June 21, 2017. The issue of safeguarding Kurdish fighters in Syria will continue to embitter relations between the United States and Turkey.


Since U.S. President Donald Trump announced the United States' intended withdrawal from Syria in December, what Turkey initially viewed as an opportunity has transformed into another crisis between the two NATO allies. For the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a U.S. withdrawal nominally presented Turkey with the opportunity to militarily eliminate the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara has long considered a terrorist organization, but which the United States has partnered with and relied upon to eradicate the Islamic State. As it stands, the Syria question has warped into a policy issue to satisfy domestic political constituents in both countries. Overindulgence on domestic considerations by Erdogan and Trump will likely allow the remaining elements of the Islamic State and other extremist groups in northern Syria to regroup over time and present new security challenges to both Turkey and other Western interests. Furthermore, it will continue to embitter relations...

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