Why Turkey and America Cannot Compromise in Syria

Source:Foreign Policy Research Institute Date:03May2019

After three days of talks in Turkey, representatives from Washington and Ankara failed to reach agreement on the terms of a proposed safe zone in northeastern Syria. The two sides, treaty allies since 1952, share such widely divergent interests in Syria that compromise appears exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. The reasons for these divergent interests are often described as an outcome of a half-hearted American intervention in Syria, where a small and limited military operation to oust the Islamic State resulted in a military partnership with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) affiliate in Syria, the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is the core component of the U.S.-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the militia that Washington depends on to hold the territory taken from Islamic State. This is only half the story and does not capture the nuance of the slow and painful deterioration of Turkish-American relations.