Strategic Incoherence in Syria

Why Iran, Russia, and Turkey Can’t All Get What They Want

Turkish-backed fighters near Mount Barsaya in Syria, January 2018. Khalil Ashawi / Reuters

After five weeks of fighting, the Turkish military and its allied Syrian-Arab militias have taken control of Turkey’s border with Afrin, a Kurdish-controlled enclave in northwestern Syria. Ankara’s ground offensive has made slow but steady progress and, barring external intervention or a political decision to stop the offensive, it will almost certainly achieve its goal of upending Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) control of Afrin.

Yet Operation Olive Branch, as the Turkish offensive is known, is not only important for Ankara. It also has political repercussions for the other external actors involved in Syria’s civil war. In Washington, debates on U.S. Syria policy are rightly focused on questions about strategy and whether the United States can translate its military gains against the Islamic State (or ISIS) into a lasting peace settlement on terms favorable to U.S. interests. These debates, however, tend to ascribe strategic

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.