Firas Maksad updates Al-Jazeera English on Turkey’s Afrin Incursion and US Strategy in Syria
Turkey is squeezed in Syria as a result of US support for the YPG and Russia’s failure to uphold its commitment to create de-escalation zones in the country’s north. President Erdogan is under intense domestic pressure to act against the YPG, an armed militia which Istanbul considers close to the PKK, the Kurdish terrorist group operating inside of Turkey. Washington may be prepared to accept a Turkish military operation in Syria as long as Turkish forces remain on the west bank of the Euphrates River (US strategic interests lie to the east of the river). Washington has articulated a Syria policy which aims to consolidate US and allied forces’ gains in the country following the defeat of ISIS and to put financial pressure on Iran. The Syrian territory held by Washington and its allies is rich in oil, agricultural land, and is home to the Euphrates Dam. These are resources Iran and Syria need for reconstruction and to defray some of the estimated $15 billion per year Tehran spends propping up the Assad regime.