Turkey’s allies in NATO remain “cringingly silent” as Turkey continues its aggressive campaign in Syria's Afrin to tackle Kurdish militants allied with the United States, wrote Jacqueline Westermann, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
Recently, Turkey has become the troubled child of NATO – including ordering S-400 missiles from Russia; an affront to its strategic alliance, Westermann said in an op-ed for RealClear Defense.
NATO inaction is being spurred by the conflicting interests of the United States in the region and the aftermath of elections in Germany, which has failed to bring a coalition government. German Leopard-II tanks are being used by Turkey in the Syria campaign, which has already produced civilian deaths, Westermann said.
“Turkish President Erdogan vows to expand Olive Branch beyond the enclave of Afrin, potentially all the way to Iraq. An extension of the operation could then also potentially see German arms facing each other,” she said, citing Germany’s arming of Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga fighters.
“And what’s worse, going beyond Afrin could have Turkish troops facing their NATO allies on the frontline. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers are in Manbij, just 130 kilometres east of Afrin, where they have been supporting the YPG in their fight against ISIS. It would be a historic first, with the potential for a true NATO crisis.”