Bizarre ‘anti-ISIS’ operating zone planned on Syrian border has U.S. military stumped

Interesting times.

Turkish tank patrols the border near Suruc.  (Image: AP via EKurd)
Turkish tank patrols the border near Suruc. (Image: AP via EKurd)

What lies beyond surreal?  Whatever it is, America is about to probe its depths, unless something intervenes to prevent the implementation of a U.S.-Turkish accord that would allow American forces to use Turkish air bases for strikes in Syria.

The U.S. has for months been seeking permission to use Turkey’s Incirlik air base in the campaign against Islamic State.  Incirlik is a Cold War-era base from which U.S. air forces have operated for years.  But Turkey has been selective about its use in the post-1991 period (prohibiting American use, notoriously, for the 2003 invasion of Iraq).

After the terrorist attack on the border town of Suruc, Turkey on 20 July – linked to Islamic State – Obama and Erdogan reportedly agreed in a phone call to bring Turkey into the campaign against ISIS, and begin operating American military aircraft in that fight from Turkish bases.

But what the character of that partnership will be remains a mystery.  It’s not just a mystery to the public.  The U.S. military doesn’t understand it either.

Shell-shocked Americans may not be capable of registering the appropriate horror at this reality.  Too many things are coming at us all at once.  But it’s bad.  Two factors give a flavor of how bad it is:

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