The United States is attempting to maintain its relationship with the Turkish government, especially now that the elections have concluded and Syria remains a major point of dispute between the two. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recognizes that current diplomatic relations are “difficult with the Turks,” but hopes future agreements of the Syrian city of Manbij can be reached. This week in a statement made to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee, Pompeo stated that,
We made progress three weeks ago in and around Manbij. We came to an understanding about how our forces would work together to resolve a very complicated issue between Kurds and Arabs and a real mix. So — progress. And we’re hopeful we can build on that. They will ultimately be part of a political resolution there, and an important part. We need to recognize that and do our best to work alongside them. Now that the election is over, I’m hopeful we can begin an even more productive conversation with them.”
Rex Tillerson, Pompeo’s predecessor, had already given the United States a fledgling plan of action regarding Manbij. An agreement was reached that the United States military would conduct patrols in the Manbij region, the patrols will be entirely independent but coordinated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Manbij Military Council (MMC). The United States relations with the Kurdish forces have created friction with the Turkish NATO ally but vice versa has created a slight amount of distrust between the Kurds and the U.S. military.
The United States’ special envoy for the anti-Islamic State coalition, Brett McGurk, spoke at a meeting in Morocco earlier this week. McGurk expressed elation that some level of cooperation over Manbij is occurring between the U.S. and Turkey. He stated that,
I also just want to commend the work that we have done with our NATO Ally and Coalition partner Turkey to deescalate some tensions, particularly around the flashpoint town of Manbij. We concluded a Roadmap with Turkey and our discussion with them have been fruitful and productive and we look forward to those to continue. We are grateful for that cooperation.”
On Tuesday this week the United States military forces operating in Manbij finished their fifth iteration of coordinated patrols. Photos were published by the Department of Defense of U.S. forces fortifying infrastructure security this week too. They set up a checkpoint “to allow local traffic to pass, but also give them the ability to quickly stop all traffic if any unwanted traffic attempts to use the road to enter the city of Manbij,” according to the U.S. Army.
Featured image: Congressman Mike Pompeo speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C. | By By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Mike Pompeo) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons