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As Turkey intensifies its military campaign against Syrian Kurdish fighters, it is tempting to blame the violence on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's strident jingoism and xenophobia.Yet, while Erdogan may have ordered "Operation Olive Branch," the real culprit is the United States' myopic focus on vanquishing regional jihadism. Bereft of a coherent Syria policy, successive U.S. administrations have obsessed over targeting Daesh (ISIS) without considering the full ramifications of their actions. Initially, the U.S. shared Erdogan's concerns.Then, in August 2016, Vice President Joseph Biden publicly admonished the PYD fighters, warning that they would lose U.S. support if they did not retreat. But the militants never fell back, and the U.S. continued to arm and train them. This penchant to please appears to have resulted in Trump making promises to Erdogan that the Pentagon decision-makers guiding America's Iraq and Syria policies never intended to keep.Not only is it emboldening adversaries such as Iran and its PMF proxies; it is also imperiling some 2,000 U.S. soldiers who are working with the Kurds in Syria.
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