Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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Rethinking the U.S. Approach in Northern Syria: A Conversation with Aaron Stein

by Micah Zenko
February 17, 2017

Kurdish fighters gesture while carrying their parties' flags in Tel Abyad of Raqqa governorate after they said they took control of the area June 15, 2015 (Reuters/Rodi Said).


Yesterday I spoke with Aaron Stein, resident senior fellow in the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council and author of the new Center for Preventive Action paper, “Reconciling U.S.-Turkish Interests in Northern Syria.” We discussed developments on the ground in northern Syria and the many complex and competing interests among the armed groups there. Stein also reviewed the strategic options for the United States going forward and made recommendations for the Donald J. Trump administration to strengthen the U.S.-Turkish relationship while pursuing the U.S. counterterrorism objectives in Syria. Though a young scholar himself, Stein also provides some great advice for professionals just entering the field.

Listen to our conversation, follow Stein on Twitter @aaronstein1, and be sure to check out his paper for a superb overview of U.S.-Turkish interests in Syria and smart U.S. policy options in the region.


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  • Posted by Don Bacon

    The reportedly US-supported Gülenist coup attempt against Erdoğan (Gülen lives in PA) , followed by a huge purge of Turkish military officers and others close to the western alliance, and then the Turkey-Russia-Iran alliance, probably act as dampers on any strengthening of the U.S.-Turkish relationship. Opposition Iraqi Freedom, which converted Iraq from an Iran enemy to an Iran ally, also reduced US influence in the area. Losers need not apply.

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