Cooperating with the Syrian Kurdish militias in the possible Raqqa offensive instead of Turkey, a legitimate NATO ally, which recently proved its capabilities of kicking off Daesh terrorists, would be a big Obama-style mistake for Trump
Turkey has offered the Trump administration either to lead or support a coalition assault on Raqqa using the largely Sunni Arab Free Syrian Army (FSA), other Arab allies and the Turkish armored infantry task force in northern Syria. On Feb. 2, the Washington Post claimed that Turkey was not capable of carrying out the mission on its own and that "the stalled Turkish offensive in al-Bab strengthens such an assessment."
The fact that Turkey has now moved into al-Bab with the FSA and has controlled the city and is now carrying out sweeping operations to rid the city of Daesh militants shows how mistaken the Washington Post was and how some people are misleading this prestigious newspaper. This is only one of the many examples on how the Americans are getting their facts wrong on issues concerning Turkey. Turkey has the capability to march into Raqqa and finish off Daesh but that will come at a high cost for Turkey, a cost it is not prepared to shoulder on its own.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has proven its capabilities in the past half year in Operation Euphrates Shield, which has rid a large chunk of northern Syria of Daesh. In relative terms, Turkey's casualties have been minimal, which should have left any American commander green with envy judging from the terrible experiences of the U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The fact that only 3,000 Turkish infantry forces have been needed to smash Daesh in al-Bab, which was regarded as a tricky military venture, is more than enough to show friends and foes alike what the country's military is capable of. So, for Turkey, Raqqa is not a "mission impossible."
Al-Bab was critical for us, whereas Raqqa is not a vital target. Of course, the city is key to ridding Syria of Daesh, but Turkey will not be over enthusiastic about getting involved there on its own.
If Turkey is to commit to anything to Raqqa, it has to be as part of a joint operation with the U.S. This means no Syrian Kurdish forces should be involved in the operation, as there is a danger that the PKK terrorist organization will slip its militants into the operation. It also means the Syrian Kurdish militia must leave the town of Manbij just west of the Euphrates.
If the Americans commit 4,500 troops into this operation; if they are really prepared to put their heart into finishing off Daesh, then Turkey can also commit its forces and help out.
If not, then the Americans can try to liberate Raqqa with the Kurds, but that will be an adventure with a high possibility of failure. It is no secret that the Arab tribes around Raqqa feel sympathy for Turkey but are at odds with the Kurds. Their cooperation will be needed if Raqqa is to be liberated. The U.S. administration has to take some very tough decisions in the days to come on what to do about the Syrian Kurdish militants, how to cooperate with Turkey in Syria and elsewhere and how to play the strategic game with Russia. But first they have to get their facts right and see to it that their information is sound.