Turkey’s Attacks on Syrian Kurds Expose Deep Rift in US-Led Coalition

© AP PhotoTurkish soldiers patrol near the border with Syria, ouside the village of Elbeyli, east of the town of Kilis, southeastern Turkey
Turkish soldiers patrol near the border with Syria, ouside the village of Elbeyli, east of the town of Kilis, southeastern Turkey - Sputnik International
The US and France have called on Turkey to stop its artillery strikes against Kurds in northern Syria; the sudden escalation in the region may now provoke uncontrollable consequences and divide the pro-Western anti-terrorist coalition.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) speaks during a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul, Turkey - Sputnik International
Biden Calls on Turkey to Stop Shelling Syria, Show 'Reciprocal Restraint'
On February 14, US Vice President Joe Biden had a phone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, calling him to stop shelling Kurds in northern Syria. Biden noted US efforts to "discourage Syrian Kurdish forces from exploiting current circumstances to seize additional territory" near the Syria-Turkish border.

Earlier, a similar statement was made by the French Foreign Ministry. According to its statement, Turkey’s bombardment of Kurdish positions in Aleppo Province which commenced on Saturday will dramatically escalate the turmoil in Syria.

"For Erdogan, the Kurdish advance in northern Syria is a stab in the back," Alexei Malashenko, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, told Gazeta.Ru.

"Ankara seems to be scared. Kurds who have long pushed for autonomy now have got a chance. In the longer term, Kurdish autonomy would deal a heavy blow both to the Turkish state and Erdogan’s reputation," he explained.

On February 13, Turkish forces began shelling a position held by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish group linked to the PYD, in Syria's Aleppo Province. Turkish forces bombed a village and the Menagh Military Airbase, which was recently taken by Kurdish forces.

Turkish forces are ready to invade Syria to smash the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, according to the French daily Le Figaro. - Sputnik International
Challenging Sovereignty? Turkey is Ready to Invade Syria to Crush Kurds
Davutoglu has already hinted that a Turkish military invasion was possible to "protect" Aleppo from Kurds.

Aleppo is of strategic importance for Turkey and Kurds but also for Damascus. Currently, the Syrian Army, backed by Russian airstrikes, has control of part of the city and has almost encircled the remaining part. If the remainder of Aleppo is liberated by government forces, a large area along the Syrian-Turkish border will be controlled by the Syrian government and Kurds, both Erdogan’s rivals.

Such a scenario will weaken the positions of the Syrian opposition groups supported by Ankara in the negotiating process in Geneva. This opposition delegation has refused to sit down to talk with Damascus, and is calling for an end to Russian airstrikes in Syria.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan addresses the audience during a meeting in Ankara, January 12, 2016. - Sputnik International
Moscow Hopes US, Coalition Will Obstruct Turkish Invasion of Syria
At the talks in Geneva, the US and Saudi Arabia are backing the same Syrian opposition group. However, the positions of Washington and Riyadh are not the same.

The Turkish artillery shelling in northern Syria has already spiked tension in the Western-led coalition. Now it is becoming clear that Washington does not control everything within the coalition.

"In theory, Saudi Arabia and – to a less extent – the UAE are ready to deploy troops to Syria," analyst Vladimir Evseyev from the Institute of CIS Countries told Gazeta.Ru.

In its turn, Washington does not want to start an operation in Syria. At the same time, the US may turn a blind eye to a Turkish or Saudi operation in northern Syria but only if it does not destabilize the situation in the region, he added.

Erdogan’s abrupt actions would give Russia a diplomatic trump card, Malashenko said.

"Moscow has repeatedly accused Ankara of hampering the Syrian peace process, and now Turkey has proved the allegations with its actions," he explained.

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