A Day of Biden, Turkey, Syria Illustrates Convoluted Region

VP tries to make nice in Ankara
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2016 2:13 PM CDT
A Day of Biden, Turkey, Syria Illustrates Convoluted Region
Vice President Joe Biden, second right, visits the Turkish Parliament in Ankara, Turkey.   (AP Photo)

If you needed further proof of just how convoluted the situation in Syria is these days, look no further than Wednesday's visit by Joe Biden to Turkey. The main point of his trip didn't directly involve Syria—he was there to try to ease tensions with Ankara, which blames the US for playing a role in a failed coup attempt last month. But the visit coincided with a US-backed Turkish military offensive into Syria against the Islamic State, and that's where things get complicated. Coverage of the two developments:

  • At a press conference, Biden insisted that the US "had no knowledge beforehand of what was to befall you on July 15,” referring to the coup attempt. "Turkey has the United States' unwavering support," he added. The Wall Street Journal.

  • But that support does not involve quickly extraditing the man Turks blame for the coup, Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in Pennsylvania. "We have no, no, no, no interest whatsoever in protecting anyone who has done harm to an ally, but we need to meet legal standard requirement under our law," said Biden, per USA Today. He urged patience; lawyers from the Justice Department are working with Turkish lawyers on the extradition request.
  • Hours earlier, Turkish tanks rolled across the border into Syria in a bid to oust ISIS militants from the border town of Jarablus, a key site in that it's last big town held by ISIS on the Syria-Turkey border. The Guardian.
  • US airstrikes backed the mission, given that the US and Turkey share the goal of defeating ISIS. But Turkey had a dual purpose: to knock back ISIS and Syrian Kurds who were threatening to take over the town. Those Kurds are US allies in the ISIS fight, but Turkey considers them a threat because a Kurd-controlled border town could inflame Turkey's own Kurdish population. The New York Times.
  • In the end, Turkey-backed militants, not the Kurds, appeared to have taken control of the town, reports CNN. (Biden had publicly warned the Syrian Kurds to hold back or risk losing US support elsewhere, notes the Times.)
  • Syria, meanwhile, is also fighting ISIS, but it objected to the invasion as a breach of its sovereignty. It views the Turkey-backed militants as terrorists as well. ArmenPress.am.
(Read more Joe Biden stories.)

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