Skirmishes along the Turkish-Syrian border have created an awkward situation between U.S. allies. Last month, Turkey launched what they’re calling “Operation Olive Branch” against a coalition of anti-ISIS, majority Kurdish militants.
Turkey has long considered the Kurdish minority spread across eastern Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and other countries. After a Kurdish independence vote in Iraq last year and with a porous border between Turkey and Syria, Turkey feels that the Kurds pose an existential threat to Turkey.
The U.S. is allied with one of the biggest Kurdish militant group, the YPG, in the war against ISIS. But Turkey has been a longstanding member of NATO, part of the closest-knit circle of U.S. allies. The Syrian government of Bashar al Assad, a close ally of Russia and Iran, is in talks with the YPG to support their effort against Turkey.
Turkey has been tepid allies with Russia, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has questioning the U.S.’s alliance after he accused a Pennsylvania resident of orchestrating a coup against him in 2016.
To discuss Operation Olive Branch, and Turkey’s alliances, we’re joined by Umut Acar, the Consul General of Turkey in Chicago.