Turkey's intervention in Syria is too little and too late

Washington Examiner:
Like a marriage held together for the sake of the kids, the U.S. and Turkey keep saying nice things in public, while privately fuming and slowly drifting apart.

The growing rift between the two countries stems from the intractable dispute over the U.S. plan to liberate Raqqa with a loose coalition of Syrian fighters comprising roughly 40 percent Kurdish YPG militia members, who Turkey considers terrorists.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered his military to drive the Islamic State out of its self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa, if only the U.S. will quit the Kurds.

Turkey regards the Kurdish Popular Protection Units, or YPG, as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, which has been declared a terrorist group by both Turkey and the U.S.

But the Pentagon says the Kurds have proven to be the most battle-hardened and combat-effective force fighting ISIS in Syria, and it has no plans to abandon them now.

Publicly the U.S. says it's still working with its NATO ally Turkey to find a role for it in the upcoming Raqqa offensive, but here's the unspoken truth: The U.S. has also judged that the Turkish military is not up to the task, based on its performance in northern Syria.

On Aug. 24, Turkey launched "Operation Euphrates Shield," sending tank and troops into Syria with the stated objective of pushing ISIS back 60 miles from its shared border, and the unstated goal of keeping Kurdish forces from controlling an unbroken swath of land stretching back into Iraq.

This past week, Turkey declared Euphrates Shield a success and ended the mission, a move Pentagon sources say was in fact largely because the U.S., Russia and Syria stymied the Turkish offensive from any further gains.
And the Turkish forces had also suffered heavy losses in the fight against ISIS in al-Bab, or as one Pentagon official put it, "They got their asses kicked."
There is more.

I have not been saying nice things about Turkey for some time.  I think Erdogan is an Islamist despot whose purge of the military after the alleged coup attempt has made it a less effective force and his main goal seems to be aimed more at the Kurds than at ISIS.  Erdogan's paranoia and ethnic hatred of the Kurds have made him an imperfect ally in the region.   It is not surprising that his military has been degraded by his actions since the alleged coup attempt.


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