As Turkish tanks and special forces were rolling into northern Syria last week, officials in Ankara claimed that the Obama Administration guaranteed that its Kurdish proxies would withdraw to the east of the Euphrates River by the end of last week. As of right now, that does not appear to have happened, and fights are flaring between Turkish forces and the (CIA and Pentagon supported) Free Syrian Army on one side, and (Pentagon backed) Kurdish PYD fighters on the other.
The Obama Administration, to say the least, is not pleased:
As the Financial Times notes, the nightmare scenario is not so much this skirmishing, but rather a full-bore fight over the town of Manbij, which PYD fighters, backed by the United States, helped take from ISIS earlier this month. Turkey grudgingly approved the operation, but only under the condition that Kurdish forces would with draw from the city once it was occupied.
It’s hard to tell from reports who is telling the truth. Kurdish spokesmen say that Turkish pronouncements are “lies” intended to justify a broader occupation of northern Syria, while a Turkish-backed FSA spokesman threatened to target Kurdish units in Manbij, and accused the Kurds broadly of conducting ethnic cleansing.
A nasty mess appears to be in the offing. Our genius Syria policy has taken another step down the road paved with the President’s good intentions: our allies are girding to fight one another, even as Russia, Iran and Assad laugh themselves silly.