Turkey Is Not the Answer to the War in Syria
With the threat of a Turkish incursion looming, the United States has an opportunity to correct its past mistakes in Syria.
The great objection to this proactive Syrian policy is Turkish disapproval, as many emphasize the need to maintain good relations with a key NATO partner, especially when that partner, as noted, controls the Bosporus and supplies weapons to Ukraine. But those who emphasize good relations have forgotten the best means to ensure them. America’s partnership with Turkey is not one of good feelings but rather one of mutual need and convenience. Turkey is not a force for good in NATO or the Middle East, with Erdogan failing to vigorously oppose Russia and going about destabilizing his entire neighborhood, intervening in Nagorno-Karabakh, Iraq, Libya, and of course Syria, all in the past five years. He is now imposing absurd conditions for Swedish and Finnish accession to NATO. A reinvigorated partnership with the SDF is only a reclamation of America’s previous position, not a direct strike against Turkey. And that position provides direct influence over Turkey’s main foreign policy concern—the Kurdish groups in its nation and surroundings—positioning Washington to demand concessions instead of offering them.
In other words, Syria holds the keys to expanding NATO, encouraging good behavior from Erdogan, hurting Russia, and weakening Iranian influence, all at a low cost. All it will take is speed and flexibility. Simply put, America cannot permit Turkey to invade unchallenged.
Jonathan Meilaender is a graduate student at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and an incoming law student at Georgetown Law. His undergraduate thesis chronicled and analyzed America’s intervention in northeast Syria during the Syrian Civil War, and his words have previously appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Wall Street Journal Online.