The US President , Joe Biden is seeking to strike the right balance in dealing with NATO ally Turkey, as it threatens a ground offensive against U.S. partners in Syria while simultaneously playing a key diplomatic role in the middle of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
After authorizing four cross-border ground offensives into Syria over the past five years, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened this year to launch a fifth in response to what he sees as a persistent presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northeastern Syria. These warnings increased earlier this month after a suicide bombing blamed on the group rocked Istanbul, killing six and injuring dozens more on the iconic Istiklal Avenue.
Ankara responded by launching “Operation Claw-Sword,” a sweeping campaign of hundreds of airstrikes against largely Kurdish-held positions, including those maintained by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Pentagon-backed militia in control of much of northeastern Syria, as well as other Kurdish positions allegedly tied to the PKK in neighboring northern Iraq.
Turkish officials view a number of Kurdish-led groups, including the SDF and its People’s Protection Units (YPG), as arms of the PKK. Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu went as far as to reject U.S. condolences over the Istanbul bombing, arguing that Washington was complicit in the act due to its support of Kurdish factions across the border.