President Trump recently congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his narrow victory in a referendum that worked a sweeping expansion of his powers, and the two leaders will meet this month at the White House. However, Trump may have tossed U.S.-Turkey relations into the toilet over his quest to fight ISIS. The president has authorized the Pentagon to heavily arm Kurdish fighters in Syria in an attempt to take back the Islamic State’s stronghold of Raqqa. In doing so, the U.S. formalizes its existing cooperation with the Y.P.G. (People’s Protection Units) in conjunction with the Syrian Democratic Forces.
The decision arrives with full Pentagon knowledge that Turkey — which insists that Kurdish fighters in Syria are part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (or the P.K.K., which the U.S., the European Union, and Turkey list as a terrorist organization) — would not approve. A U.S. official told the New York Times that Turkey was briefed on the move and had no comment. The Washington Post explains the Trump’s decision: