U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeanne Shaheen are attempting to persuade Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to support the U.S. military in maintaining a continued presence in Syria. In a recent meeting with Erdogan in Ankara, the senators discussed the concept with the President. Following the meeting, Senator Graham told press that, “I tried to make the case that you want America in Syria because the outcomes of us leaving are not good.” Currently, they are on a Middle East tour to meet with the various political leadership. After Turkey, they will be visiting Baghdad and Erbil but also the contested city of Manbij, located in Kurdish controlled northern Syria.
The United States and Turkey are seriously looking to repair their relationship after disagreeing about the Islamic State conflict. During Operation Inherent Resolve, the Turkish military has been severely critical of the United States military support of the Kurdish militant forces in Syria, at times they have also taken aggressive military action toward these same forces. Recently an American pastor was arrested in Turkey for alleged terrorism related charges, which has strained things further.
U.S. and Turkish military forces are currently executing coordinated but independent patrols around the city of Manbij. The city has been under threat from Turkish military forces ever since Afrin fell earlier this year. A new plan for the future of Manbij and northern Syria between the U.S. and Turkey has their forces working together though.
The last YPG military advisers withdrew from Manbij early last month, the region is now manned by the Syrian Democratic Forces specifically working alongside coalition forces. Senator Graham believes it “should be sufficient,” for YPG to maintain a presence east of the Euphrates River. A series of anti-Kurdish terrorism operations have been launched by Syria this year which have drawn a great deal of protest from the international community. Senator Graham touched on this saying that, “You don’t want any further incursions in Syria by the Turkish military, you’ll get yourself in a quagmire,” in a warning to President Erdogan.