Biden’s Tacit Support for Turkey’s Syria Incursion Sent an Ominous Signal

Biden’s Tacit Support for Turkey’s Syria Incursion Sent an Ominous Signal
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands after a meeting, Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 24, 2016 (AP photo by Kayhan Ozer).

Anyone who thought the Syrian war could not get any more complicated, and the U.S. position within it any more contradictory, discovered in the past few days that in Syria, there is always a worse scenario at hand.

This time, the troubles came via Turkey, with the tone and substance of public communications between American and Turkish officials changing drastically in a matter of just a few days amid a sharp escalation from Turkey. One week ago, Vice President Joe Biden was in Ankara offering rhetorical hugs to a stern President Recep Tayip Erdogan, proclaiming the strength of the alliance and offering awkward apologies to the Turkish people for not responding soon enough and “with the appropriate amount of solidarity and empathy” in the aftermath of the failed coup. This week, the Pentagon is warning Turkish forces to stop aiming their weapons at America’s Kurdish allies in Syria.

The events bring to mind the infamous meeting between the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, and the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on July 25, 1990. At that meeting, Glaspie apparently told Hussein, “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.” The Iraqi government released what it called the transcript of the meeting, which Glaspie has long claimed was an incomplete or doctored transcript, since it only included “one part of my sentence” on that key point about Kuwait.

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