When one thinks of US Partners in the Middle East which relationship is the most crucial right now? Which relationship currently causes the most controversy? The same answer to each question will often arise. Some will say Israel others will say Saudi Arabia. The same answers will arise when one asks which one is the most controversial as well with Turkey being added.
What happens when a partner loses faith in the US? That is an interesting question and events are in motion where we can be seeing that scenario play out.
We all heard of and even saw the CCTV footage of the Bombing in Istanbul last month that killed several people. Almost immediately afterwords the Turks announced that they knew who was responsible for the blast. It was the Kurdish Worker’s Party or the PKK. Often where there is a terrorist attack in the country the PKK is blamed in what can be considered to be a kneejerk reaction.
Even though the Kurds have had traditionally poor relations with Ankara, They have not been able to recruit many allies. So when events over the last three decades when they were victimized by Civil War in Syria, The chaotic aftermath after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in Iraq the Kurds have felt like they needed to handle their own defense.
In Northeastern Syria the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) a group that helped defeat the Islamic State in Syria during the campaign of 2014-15 made a recent decision that should not be a surprise to many who follow events in the Middle East.
The SDF has announced that after the latest series of raids that it will suspend it joint patrol will the Coalition Forces over the recent Turkish Raids into the region. Should this come as a surprise to many. No it shouldn’t.
The SDF maintains that if it is conflict with Turkish Troops that will force them to divert resources away from a Prison that they operate which houses IS Prisoners and conducting Ops against IS Militants that are still active in the field.
That is a hell of a trade-off. Defend yourself from a US ally that is acting as a bully in order to have the Government seen as strong against Terrrorism in an Election or preventing known enemies from resuming Operations.
Another thing that has be watched is the US-Turkish relations. We know that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has called his Turkish Counterpart to discuss this and other mutual concerns but the SDF have to consider one thought.
Will the US Government do to them what they did to the Afghani Government and just cut their losses and withdraw?
It is too early to determine that however that is something people should be paying attention to. And the clock is ticking.