Can We Get a Time-Out in Afrin?

Update: 2:28 PM, Jan. 25, 2018 I’ve rethought my tone of voice on this and the previous post. I apologize if it was offensive, I was afraid. In an attempt to be more impartial I’ve added a video below that speaks to the fears of Erdogan and Putin. I owe this change of heart to Bishop Barron’s YouTube channel.

There are two issues of concern in Syria: the continuation of the Syrian conflict and the safety of the inhabitants of Afrin. The initial cause of the latest conflict is the Americans’ threat to back a new force of 30,000 fighters on Syria’s border. The attack on Afrin is a separate issue and may not be connected to the overall conflict. Many sources are saying that the Kurds in Afrin were never part of the US coalition.(1) Furthermore, the United States has warned its Kurdish allies in the North that if they go to the defense of Afrin they will no longer be part of the US coalition. Instead, it’s becoming clear that Afrin’s misfortune is the fault of Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan.

Representatives from the Democratic Administration of Northern Syria, the confederation of Syrian Arab and Kurdish leaders, say the ongoing violence in Afrin was the result of Russian jockeying to strengthen the hand of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. Moscow offered to close the airspace to Turkish airstrikes if the Kurds would hand over their sovereignty to Assad. The Kurds refused and this is their punishment. As for Erdogan, he’s wanted to go after the YPG in Afrin since 2012. Now he claims to have killed Islamic State fighters in Afrin even though everyone in the region knows that the Islamic State is not in Afrin.(2)

Rex Tillerson has said the border force is no longer in the works, but of course no one believes him and the fighting continues. However, compared to the complexities of the Syrian conflict Afrin’s troubles are not complicated. It is clear that the people of Afrin are not to blame. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is out on a limb in Afrin. (Or at least that’s how I expressed it when I wrote this the first time. Here is another side of the story.)

[1] Ragip Soylu US Disavowed ‘Afrin Kurds’ long ago, Daily Sabah, Jan. 25, 2018. Available:

[2] Ece Toksabay, Ellen Francis and Tuvan Gumrukcu U.S.-backed Syrian Force Denies Islamic State in Area Targeted by Turkey Reuters, Jan. 24, 2018. Available:

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