As Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” offensive enters its third week, Ankara appears willing to risk a direct military confrontation with the United States in Syria.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdaf warned last week that an armed confrontation with the United States is not inconceivable as the Turks press deeper into Syrian territory in their effort to combat Syrian Kurdish fighters. The warning echoes Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, at an AK Party conference on February 6, threatened that Washington may face a direct military standoff with Turkey if US troops did not withdraw their support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
The US Assistant Secretary of State, Jonathan Cohen, warned Ankara against an attack during his visit to Turkey on January 23, but the warning went unheeded and the Turkish offensive went ahead. The US has military advisors working with YPG forces in northern Syria, which could put Turkish and US troops are with a firing range of each other within days, a Turkish military analyst told Al-Monitor.