Will Turkey and the US clash in Syria?
Turkey has gathered its troops on its border with Syria. It plans to launch an offensive against the Kurdish-held enclave in Afrin, where the US supports a Kurdish-led "border security force". Commentators disagree as to whether this means a direct confrontation between Nato allies the US and Turkey is unavoidable.
It won't come to a show of force
Columnist Gwynne Dyer analyses in the Cyprus Mail the US's strategy in setting up a Kurdish-led border patrol in Syria:
“The main purpose of this sudden escalation in the US commitment in Syria is presumably to stop the Russians from winning a total victory in the country. ... The Kurds always get betrayed because what they really want is an independent Kurdistan including all 20 million Kurds. But to create that, the four most powerful countries in the region - Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq - would all have to be partially dismantled. They will do whatever it takes to prevent that. ... But the likelihood of a shooting war between Turks and Americans remains very low. Like Obama before him, Trump is pursuing a policy in Syria that is not backed up by enough force to make it credible. Everybody assumes that he is bluffing, and that he will betray the Syrian Kurds in the end.”
Ankara and Tehran won't just sit back and watch
The establishment of a Kurdish border security force will fuel the war in Syria, author Jean Portante warns in Le Jeudi:
“To limit the influence of Iran, the US has tasked the democratic forces in Syria - which mainly consist of the Kurdish YPG - with monitoring the territory recently won back from the IS on the Turkish border. Riyadh and Tel Aviv are delighted but this is unacceptable not only to Iran, but also and above all to Turkey, which can't imagine allowing its public enemy number one - the Kurds - to patrol its borders. ... And so nothing or almost nothing now stands in the way of a direct [US] confrontation with Iran and Turkey. The current balance of power means that Russia would also become involved. No one can tell where such a war could lead.”
Ankara has no choice
The US-led Kurdish force in Afrin is unacceptable, T24 writes welcoming the imminent military offensive:
“Afrin is crucial for Turkey's efforts to secure its border. At the same time Afrin is the headquarters of the YPG, the Syrian arm of the PKK. The US is gathering soldiers and heavy arms here and this helps the terrorist YPG enormously. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that the US delivered weapons to the YPG over a long period of time. It is openly working with a terrorist organisation here and supporting it against its ally Turkey. ... It's hard to believe, but the confrontation between Turkey and the US resembles a war. Ankara can rightly count the US among its enemies when the latter supports a terrorist organisation. ... There is no alternative to a military offensive in Afrin.”
Moscow delighted about new alliances
Ria Novosti explains why the Kremlin is likely to welcome the Turkish offensive in northern Syria:
“Russia, which backs Syria's territorial integrity, is opposed to the US's attempts to promote a separate Syrian Kurdistan. ... The Russian leadership confirmed Turkey's right to react to the threatening situation. Everyone understands that Kurdish separatism must be annihilated - and it's better if the Turkish army does, because the Syrian army has a lot on its plate right now. Russia has no problems with a further deterioration in US-Turkish relations because that will take the Turks further away from the West and bring them closer - even if involuntarily - to Russia and Iran.”