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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during an award ceremony in Ankara, Dec. 29, 2016 (Presidential Press Service photo by Yasin Bulbul).

After the Fall of Aleppo, Turkey’s Erdogan Digs In His Heels Against Syria’s Kurds

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017

The fall of rebel-held eastern Aleppo in Syria last month was a stunning personal blow for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose government had openly backed Syrian rebel groups after the civil war began in 2011. Losing the rebels’ self-styled “capital of the revolution” to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies is an insurmountable setback for years of Turkish regime-change efforts in Syria.

But there is a silver lining for Turkey. After Aleppo, Ankara can focus all its diplomatic, military and political efforts on pursuing its more immediate national security interests in northern Syria: fighting the so-called Islamic State while checking the Syrian Kurdish project for autonomy and national independence. And with President Barack Obama serving his last few days in Washington, Erdogan sees a small window of opportunity to maximize his leverage and negotiating position on both these fronts before President-elect Donald Trump moves into the White House. ...

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