Turkish troops and substantial air and armor forces are poised on the Turkey-Iraq border to defend against what Turkey calls terrorist attacks from Kurdish rebels. As tensions and the body count mount, Turkey is looking to the U.S. for action. Mark Parris, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, addressed the crisis:
“This is not an easy proposition from a military standpoint—the terrain is very difficult, the enemy is very elusive, they can see them coming, so the Turks will have to consider how to do this in a militarily significant way. They do have a serious and growing terrorism problem. There have been 30 Turks—civilian and military—killed in the last couple of weeks. It does have an American dimension in that the Turks feel their ally—the United States—should help them get a handle on this problem since we, in their view, are controlling much of Iraq.
“Bottom line, I guess is that Prime Minister Erdogan and his military chiefs have some difficult decisions. They’ll have to weigh carefully what they do on this issue but their country is expecting them to take concrete steps to deal with a terrorism problem that the united States, in their view, has not done an adequate job of dealing with by ourselves.”
The greatest threat from the U.S. perspective is direct military conflict between Turkish and American forces...Erdogan seems determined to force the Americans to fulfill past promises that YPG forces would return east of the Euphrates. The challenge for the US is whether that promise can be kept while also maintaining order on the ground.
It is too soon to tell whether Pompeo would take a different approach toward Turkey...Though I wouldn’t expect the direction of U.S. policy to change significantly...The working groups put in place after Tillerson’s Ankara meetings were something that multiple other secretaries of state had used in the past to address tough policy issues, and there [is] no reason why this particular group could not continue under the new leadership...[Moreover], U.S. policy on the issues of Brunson and Gülen will not change.