Pindostan is pissing off everyone in northern Syria
Benjamin Gilbert, Vice News, Aug 30 2016
When Sec Def Ashtray Carter asked Turkey on Monday to “stay focused” in the fight against Daesh and stop attacking Pindo-backed Kurdish forces, Turkish officials responded with a suggestion of their own. Erdogan spox Ibrahim Kalin said in a Turkish newspaper on Tuesday:
Pindosis should revise their policy of supporting (the Kurdish-led force) at all costs.
It was the latest rebuke to Pindo damage-control efforts after US-backed Kurdish forces clashed with Turkey over the weekend. The Syrian Kurds blew up a Turkish tank in the north of Syria on Saturday, killing at least one soldier, and Turkish warplanes attacked Syrian Kurds the following day, killing at least 35 people. Experts on the region say that Pindostan has mismanaged its relationships with allies who have wildly differing objectives in Syria. And this, says Robert Ford, the last Pindo ambassador to Syria, has created a quagmire that could have been avoided. Ford said:
We managed to make everyone angry at us: The Syrian kurds, the larger Syrian opposition, as well as the Turks.
The reason Ford said this is partly because Pindostan failed to communicate the limits of its support to the Syrian Kurds before Turkey launched “Operation Euphrates Shield” into northern Syria last week. Biden visited Turkey and publicly announced that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would need to withdraw to the east of the Euphrates River, as Ankara had requested, or Pindostan would no longer support them. Ford said:
If the vice president has to say that in Turkey, there’s a problem. That message should have been clear to them long before the VP got to Turkey.
The Turks made clear their offensive had two aims: to drive Daesh away from their border with Syria, and to prevent Syrian Kurds from linking together the two autonomous zones under their control in order to create a large, semi-independent statelet in northern Syria. Ford says he warned the Obama administration in 2014 and 2015 not to support the Kurds, due to the problems it would cause with Turkey and with other Syrian opposition groups. Ford resigned from the State Dept in 2014 due to his disagreement with Pindostan’s Syria policy, particularly its refusal to arm what he said were Syria’s moderate rebels. He said:
What we have in the past five days is we are now harvesting something that we started sowing back in early 2015.
According to Ford, the Obama administration feared it would violate international law if it armed forces that would in turn attack the Assad regime. And the Kurds didn’t want to fight Assad, they wanted to fight Daesh, with the understanding that they could expand their own territory in the process. And expand they did. The Kurds grew their territory by 50% as they drove off Daesh with help from Pindo air support and advisors. They also lost hundreds of fighters in the process. So, says Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma:
It must have come as a shock to the Kurds when just a few weeks after they fought a bloody battle to evict Daesh from the town of Manbij at Pindostan’s request, Biden showed up in Turkey and said they would need to withdraw from the town in order to accommodate the Turks. Of course the Kurds feel betrayed, and they were betrayed. I’m sure the Pindo SOF who worked with the Kurds over the past two months are feeling very embarrassed, because they feel like they lied through their teeth as they gave encouragement to the Kurds to do the heavy lifting. The question now is whether this will affect future Pindo plans to use the Kurds as the tip of their anti-Daesh spear in the battle to take Raqqa. The new Pindo general in charge of the Pindo war against Daesh has said that Pindostan and its vassals intend to take Raqqa by next August, and Pindostan is depending on its Kurdish vassals, in particular, to comprise the main ground fighting force in the effort. But the Kurds have no strategic interest in going to Raqqa, since it’s a Sunni Arab city far east of their territory. If this undermines the Kurdish will to go after Daesh, then our efforts to combat Daesh in Syria will be stalled. (If) the Kurds go back to their tents and sulk, any effort to send them to Raqqa is going to be seriously compromised.