World View: Turkey’s Erdogan Splits Further with U.S., Blaming It for a ‘Sea of Blood’

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Pentagon deploying hundreds of troops to Helmand in Afghanistan
  • Turkey’s Erdogan splits further with US, blaming it for a ‘sea of blood’

Pentagon deploying hundreds of troops to Helmand in Afghanistan

US soldiers in Afghanistan (AFP)
US soldiers in Afghanistan (AFP)

With the Taliban resurgent in Helmand province in Afghanistan, the U.S. will deploy a force described as “battalion strength,” probably around 800 troops, to the region to support the Afghan military. US troops have already been involved in combat against the Taliban recently in Helmand, including an hours-long battle last month. But in keeping with Barack Obama’s formal declaration that the US is not engaged in combat, defense officials said the additional troops would not take part in combat.

According to Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, a U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan:

The battalion will bring a small number of trainers to assist with the efforts to re-man, re-equip, and re-train the 215th Corps, but its primary mission will remain force protection. This is not a new force protection mission, but an enhancement of the existing force protection mission to increase the capacity of our current train, advise and assist efforts.

The new deployment will not increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan. The additional forces will be taken from the 9,800 troops already in the country. The advisors and infantry will come from the 10th Mountain Division. Army Times and Guardian (London)

Turkey’s Erdogan splits further with US, blaming it for a ‘sea of blood’

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday signaled a major split with the Obama administration by accusing it of adopting a policy that has turned the Mideast into “a sea of blood.”

On the same day, France’s outgoing foreign minister Laurent Fabius also blamed President Obama for inaction that’s led to numerous setbacks in Syria, and said that he doubted that Obama would follow through on previous promises to back Syria’s moderate opposition:

There are ambiguities including among the actors of the coalition. I’m not going to repeat what I’ve said before about the main pilot [Barack Obama] of the coalition… but we don’t have the feeling that there is a very strong commitment there.

I don’t think that the end of Mr. Obama’s mandate will push him to act as much as his minister [secretary of state John Kerry] declares.

While Fabius merely blamed Obama for inaction, Erdogan blamed Obama for specific actions: namely, supporting the YPG, the armed wing of the Kurds in Syria. The US has been supporting the YPG as its foot soldiers in the fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). However, the YPG has ties to the PKK in Turkey, which an internationally recognized separatist terrorist group that has been conducting terror attacks in Turkey for decades. Furthermore, the YPG is allied with Russia, which is now a bitter enemy of Turkey.

Erdogan on Wednesday said that Obama has to make a decision whether his ally is Turkey or the YPG:

Hey, America. Because you never recognized them as a terrorist group, the region has turned into a sea of blood.

We have written proof! We tell the Americans, ‘It’s a terror group.’ But the Americans stand up and say, ‘No, we don’t see them as terror groups.’ […]

Am I your regional partner or are the terrorists in Kobani [the YPG]? […]

They [US officials] do not say anything to our faces, but they make different statements elsewhere. It is not possible to understand what type of partnership this is.

Erdogan added that it is impossible to trust America at this point.

Erdogan indicated that Turkey would break with American policy and implement its own solution, referring to his proposal to create a safe zone or buffer zone in northern Syria. As we wrote yesterday ( “10-Feb-16 World View — Russia and Turkey head for clash on Syria border”), Erdogan appears to be taking advantage of the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees massed on Turkey’s border by setting up refugee camps in Syria, effective creating a de facto buffer zone. CNN and Daily Caller and Vice News and Reuters

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Taliban, Afghanistan, Helmand, Willam Shoffner, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Syria, France, Laurent Fabius, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
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