On October 22, U.S. Special Envoy Jim Jeffrey testified in Congress to discuss the Trump administration’s decision to abandon support for Syrian Kurds. While both Democrats and Republicans criticized Jeffrey’s policy and its disastrous results for the Kurds, nothing Jeffrey said should surprise. After all, when he spoke to reporters last December after a U.S.-Turkey Working Group Jeffrey reportedly said that U.S. cooperation with the Kurds was tactical and temporary, but that it was bilateral ties with Turkey that mattered. “We want to have cooperation with Turkey across the board on all Syrian issues.” This is a logic that Trump supporters in the foreign policy community embraced. Bush administration alum Michael Doran explained at a Hudson Institute panel, “We borrowed a Russian and Iranian proxy, and it was strategically stupid," Doran added. “Everyone knows we’re leaving sooner or later. Turkey is going to be there forever, and the Turks know this as well. So we have to work through them, largely on their terms.”
There is a fundamental problem with this argument, however. Turkey may once have been an important ally and partner, but if Jeffrey, Doran, and supporters of Trump’s strategy believe Turkey is an ally, then the word simply has no meaning at all.