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Politics

Washington Post Columnist Wonders about Turkey: ‘What Kind of an Ally Is This?’

WASHINGTON – In an opinion piece in the Washington Post last week, columnist David Ignatius writes that, “Turkey’s fixation on alleged Kurdish terrorism reached a dangerous flash point this week, as Turkish warplanes bombed targets in northern Syria that are perilously close to U.S. forces there guarding against a resurgence of the Islamic State.”

The writer explains that, “the danger of this latest spasm of Turkish reprisal attacks was described to me on Wednesday by Gen. Mazloum Kobane Abdi, commander of the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF. He said that after three days of Turkish bombing, the SDF could lose its ability to maintain security at prisons and a refugee camp for ISIS fighters and their families.”

On the American side, Col. Joseph Buccino, spokesman for the U.S. Central Command which oversees the region, said, “these strikes have already placed the ISIS mission at risk,” but he also said, “one of the strikes hit within 130 meters of U.S. personnel, so American forces are at risk. Any extension of these attacks will drive up that risk.”

Ignatius writes that, “Mazloum said SDF forces are also ‘at risk right now’ as they try to maintain security at 28 makeshift prisons in northern Syria where about 12,000 captured ISIS fighters are housed. After a January prison break at the Hasakah prison, more than 3,000 of these detainees escaped, and it took more than a week to capture most of them and regain control.”

Turkey claims that the SDF, and Mazloum personally, according to Ignatius, “are affiliated with the militant Kurdish militia known as the PKK, which they contend was responsible for a Nov. 13 terrorist bombing in Istanbul.” Ignatius continues, saying that, “Mazloum told me his forces had no involvement in the attack and had expressed sympathy for the victims. As for the charge that he was personally affiliated with PKK terrorism, he said, ‘these are just excuses’ and that he had been working closely with U.S. and coalition forces for more than eight years.”

‘A BOMB…TURKEY…SEEMS DETERMINTED TO DETONATE’

Ignatius calls Northern Syria “a bomb that Turkey, through its reckless actions, seems determined to detonate” and adds that, “Mazloum said that he expects Turkey to soon begin a ground assault in northern Syria, seeking greater control of Manbij and Kobani, two areas liberated from ISIS by the United States and its SDF partners at great cost.”

Mazloum feels the United States has an “ethical responsibility to protect the Kurds from being ethnically cleansed from this region.” Ignatius writes also that Mazloum, “urged U.S. officials to pressure Turkey to de-escalate its attacks before there is a disaster.”

“Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke on Wednesday with his Turkish counterpart and warned the Turks against attacking restricted zones around U.S. troops. But a Pentagon official said there was ‘no sign that [the Turks] are ready to de-escalate,’” Ignatius reports, and continues by noting the danger posed by the Turkish military assault in northern Syria, which he said is beginning to “destabilize the U.S.-led coalition’s fragile control over the murderous remnants of the Islamic State.”

Ignatius concludes his article by saying: “ A reasonable person begins to wonder: what kind of an ally is this?”

 

(Material from the Washington Post was used in this article)

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