MESOP NEWS SIGNIFICANT : Trump Warns Erdogan Over Offensive in Syria

U.S. President Donald J. Trump has called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to warn him that an ongoing Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria “risks undercutting our shared goals” in the country, the White House said.

Trump also urged his Turkish counterpart to “limit” his country’s military actions (WaPo) and avoid civilian casualties. Ankara disputed Washington’s description of the Wednesday phone call, and Erdogan announced that Turkey will extend its operations in the area (Guardian) to the city of Manbij, moving its troops closer to the U.S.-backed Kurdish presence in Syria’s northeast. In Vienna, a ninth round of UN-sponsored Syria peace talks is set to begin on Thursday (RFE/RL), ahead of Russia-sponsored negotiations in Sochi next week.


“Washington is so focused on its narrow strategy of eliminating the Islamic State in Syria, that it has ignored the grievances of its ally Turkey,” Mahir Zeynalov said in an interview with the Carnegie Middle East Center.

“While Turkish officials portray this campaign as an anti-terrorism operation (awkwardly named Operation Olive Branch), Turkey has much to answer for in this department,” CFR’s Steven A. Cook writes for the Atlantic.

“Erdogan has largely gritted his teeth as American-backed [Kurdish] YPG forces cleared the Islamic State from significant swaths of Syria. However, he has consistently proved his readiness to take military action in defense of a clear red line: any moves by the YPG to connect three cantons in northern Syria along the Turkish border into a unified Kurdish region,” Amanda Sloat writes for Foreign Policy.