Reuters reports on a new Syria blunder by the U.S. and its allies:
The United States and Turkey have agreed “in principle” to give air support to some forces from Syria’s mainstream opposition, Turkey’s foreign minister said, in what if confirmed could mark an expansion of U.S. involvement in the conflict.
There had been hints that the U.S. might do this since last year, but nothing seemed to happen in the months that followed. If this report is correct, that appears to have changed. If this is right, the U.S. and Turkey have agreed to go to war against the Syrian government while the U.S. is still bombing ISIS. It would be difficult for U.S. policy in Syria to become more incoherent and dangerous than it already was, but the administration may have found a way to do it. It was always likely that U.S. backing for any part of the Syrian opposition would eventually lure the U.S. into taking military action against the Syrian regime, and now it appears that the U.S. is on track to do just that. That was what Syria hawks hoped for when they started agitating for the U.S. to “arm the rebels” years ago, and now they may finally be getting their deranged wish.
The report says that no decision has yet been taken, so it’s possible that the administration might pull back before making such a huge mistake. If the administration did this, it would not only put U.S. forces on two different sides of a foreign civil war at the same time, but it would increase the risk to U.S. pilots from Syrian air defenses. Up until now, there has been a tacit arrangement that has allowed the U.S. to attack targets inside Syria without any response from the Syrian government. Once the U.S. starts bombing Syrian government forces, that arrangement seems sure to end. Jihadist groups would likely be the main beneficiary of all this. In the process the U.S. could risk triggering a crisis with Iran in the event that Iranian personnel in Syria are killed by U.S. strikes.