Apparently, while Michael Flynn was the National Security Advisor, Turkey wanted him to convince President Trump to abort an attack on the Syrian city of Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold.

Let's put aside the Flynn/Trump component for the moment. My question concerns Turkish politics. Why is it not in Turkey's interests for such an attack to occur?


2 Answers 2


Turkey isn't against liberating Raqqa per se. Turkey is against arming the Kurds to do it, and the plan on the table was to arm the Kurds.

There are Kurds in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Turkey regards some of the Kurds in Turkey as separatists and terrorists. As a result, they want to avoid doing anything that arms Kurds in any of the three countries. They are concerned that arms given to Kurds in either Iraq or Syria could end up in the hands of Kurdish terrorists in Turkey.

We can dress it up with additional issues, but that is the fundamental reason why Turkey is against arming Kurds in Iraq and Syria.

The United States (US) has a history of working with the Kurds in Iraq. This makes the US more willing to work with those in Syria.

The other answer quotes the Turks in their own words and links to more discussion.


The brief version is that they believe that Raqqa should be used for their own forces in the U.S-led coalition and seriously object to any U.S. support to arm Syrian Kurdish Fighters, in which they want to push YPG gains and separate two of the Kurdish-dominated cantons.

A longer version as written in Syrian Kurds welcome U.S. arms, Turkey objects:

But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slammed the move, saying "every weapon that reaches their hands is a threat toward Turkey," and that Turkey's president would raise the issue during a visit to Washington planned for next week.

[ ... ]

One plan Ankara has presented to Washington would have a Turkish-led FSA force of around 10,000 push south to Raqqa from the YPG-held border town of Tal Abyad. That would roll back YPG gains and separate two of the Kurdish-dominated cantons.

Washington has so far been non-committal.

"We told them there are many alternatives for Raqqa and they didn't disagree," said one Turkish official familiar with the talks. "They said 'we understand your sensitivities, we don’t recognize their (YPG) territorial ambitions'."

Turkey and its Syrian rebel force was "ready at any time to do Raqqa, after clearing al-Bab," the official said.

(Emphasis Mine)

From the widely reported McCatchy report which has been cited when reporting about the Michael Flynn investigation. They provide a view from Ankara:

The view from Ankara

Turkey has angrily objected to U.S. support of Syrian Kurdish fighters, arguing that to arm the YPG is to help a group that is carrying out attacks on a key ally and fellow NATO member. The YPG has ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, considered a terrorist group by Turkey as well as the U.S. and the European Union. However, the U.S.-led coalition considers the YPG the most effective military partner against ISIS in Syria.

Turkey has insisted that the only feasible option to retake the terrorist group’s capital of Raqqa is for its own forces to participate in the U.S.-led coalition. The promise has been viewed skeptically by the Pentagon, where it’s been dismissed as “Erdogan’s ghost army.”

(Emphasis Mine)

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