Turkey’s foreign minister heads to Washington as military advances in Syria

Turkey’s foreign minister heads to Washington as military advances in Syria

Today, Turkish and US officials will meet to discuss the conflict in the Syrian city of Manbij. As Turkish president

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Photo: Reuters

Today, Turkish and US officials will meet to discuss the conflict in the Syrian city of Manbij. As Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s military offensive in Afrin against the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), a Kurdish militia, has peaked, the neighbouring Manbij is in the crossfire of Turkish-US debates.

Ankara has indicated that once the YPG, linked to the terrorist Kurdistan People’s Party, is ousted from Afrin, Turkish forces will advance into Manbij to combat the remaining YPG fighters. But, the militia is Washington’s main fighting ally against ISIS.

Erdogan’s representatives will likely aggressively reiterate their insistence on removing the YPG from Manbij. Ankara has already expressed disappointment over the transition of power to YPG hands since the city was liberated from ISIS in 2016.

Expect the US to refuse to actively push out their military allies; whatever compromises are not made at this meeting may be addressed when re-elected Russian president Vladimir Putin and Erdogan meet in April as Turkish-Russian relations improve. The outcome of today’s meeting could be very disruptive, as Turkish forces may very well prioritise their objective of extracting the Kurds and enter a direct clash with US interests.

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