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Fork-tongued diplomacy, brutal reality

14 9 0

U.S. President Trump did not invite, but allowed, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and its Syrian proxy militia forces—re-branded by Ankara as the “Syrian National Army” (SNA)—to enter Syria. U.S. forces withdrew from northern Syria to avoid clashing with its NATO ally, Turkey. The military operation’s declared scope is a 450-kilometer-wide and 30-kilometer-deep area from Kobane to the Iraqi border, as President Erdoğan did not quite shy away from repeating even after he received Vice President Pence’s visit.

Yet, as things stand at the moment, military activity remains limited to the roughly 120 kilometer area between Akçakale/Tel Abyad/Gire Spi to Ceylanpınar/Ras El-Ayn/Serekani. Almost a perfect rectangle, the area extends south towards the M-4 highway line that lies 30 kilometers to the south, parallel to the border. Again, for the time being, the initial operation is mostly being driven forward by the SNA. At present, even control of Serekani is still contested and SNA’s reach to the M-4 highway appears to be temporary.

As the U.S. pulled out, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army (SAA), supported by Russia, moved into Manbij and Kobane to the west and to the Qamishli axis to the east of the said rectangular field of ongoing operations. Hence, there is no reason why the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) should heed the U.S.-Turkish Joint Statement, and there is no reason why the congressional sanctions effort should stop—it didn’t.

Therefore, considering the situation on the ground and the international relations context, VP Pence’s Ankara visit looks as if the point was to merely announce “a deal,” any deal, rather than........

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