Turkey Threatens American Allies and Partners as Ukraine War Gives Erdogan Leverage

Turkey may soon launch a new military operation against the Kurdish forces that partnered with the United States to dismantle the Islamic State group in Syria despite protests from American officials.

“We are completely unstinting in our efforts with the Turkish government to back them off on this ill-considered venture,” State Department Assistant Secretary Barbara Leaf told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Wednesday hearing. “I couldn’t give you the assurance that they are going to.”

A cross-border assault could upend the U.S. approach to suppressing IS and perhaps even drive the most important American partner in the country into an alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad, American leaders fear. Yet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who regards the Syrian fighters as terrorist allies of the Kurdish separatist group that has fought the Turkish central government for decades, seems keen to press disputes with the U.S. and other NATO members at a moment when the war in Ukraine has demonstrated Erdogan’s clout within the trans-Atlantic alliance — as evidenced by his Wednesday accusation that the U.S. and Greece have established military bases targeting Turkey.

“Nine American bases — where have those bases been established? In Greece,” Erdogan told reporters, per a Turkish public broadcaster’s interpreter. “And against whom? They answer ‘against Russia,’ but we will not buy into that. Sorry, but no.”

Erdogan made that comment alongside Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro, who is visiting Ankara after President Joe Biden banned him and other Latin American authoritarians from attending the Summit of the Americas this week in Los Angeles. His press conference renewed some of the most fractious controversies of Erdogan’s relationship with the rest of the trans-Atlantic alliance, as he reiterated his accusation that Sweden and Finland, who have applied to join NATO, give shelter to Kurdish terrorists.

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Source: Washington Examiner