After the Turkish offensive in the Syrian border zones dominated by Kurds left more than 100 civilians dead, the US Secretary of State has said that President Donald Trump is prepared to take military action against Turkey. "We prefer peace to war ... But in the event that kinetic action or military action is needed, you should know that President Trump is fully prepared to undertake that action," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC.
Pompeo's latest comments have gone against the spirit of the actions so far from Trump. The president had abandoned the Kurds, who had been loyal allies in the US fight against Sunni Islamic terror movement Isis. Trump said even this week that he was not going to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives, adding that they must instead fight for themselves.
Trump's decision to withdraw from the border zones let Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan make incursions into the Kurdish areas and drive them out of the region. Under heavy criticism from the US and abroad, Trump agreed to slap economic sanctions on Turkey, a Nato member.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wants to crush the Kurds in Syria as he sees it as a branch of the The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which represents nearly 20 percent of Kurds inside Turkey. The PKK had taken up arms against Ankara in the 1980s, triggering a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people so far
Turkey is opposed to the Kurdish consolidation in the north and east of Syria as it has its own sizeable Kurdish minority. Besides Turkey, countries like Syria, Iraq and Iran too have large Kurdish minorities. The problem is complex as the Kurdish minorities in all these countries are seeking varying degrees of autonomy.
In his latest comments, Pompeo did not specify what actions would the US consider against Turkey. He said he did not want to "get out in front of the president's decision about whether to take the awesome undertaking of using America's military might," according to CNBC. "You suggested the economic powers that we've used. We'll certainly use them. We'll use our diplomatic powers as well. Those are our preference," Pompeo added.
Earlier last week, the United States slapped sanctions on Nato ally Turkey after Ankara's renewed offensive against Kurds in northern Syria put civilians at risk. Washington also accused Turkey of causing the release of dangerous Islamic State terrorists from the region.