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When Allies Become Enemies (Before the War is Over), Obama’s ISIS Plan Has Another Problem

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
August 31, 2016
Defense One

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The killing of Islamic State co-founder, operations overseer, and key spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is good news for the U.S. military and its coalition of forces fighting the terrorist group inside Syria. But it comes after a week that has shown just how hard it is for the U.S. to keep members of the counter-ISIScoalition aligned and focused on the fight against ISIS rather than one another.

Turkey, America’s NATO ally and Incirlik Air Base host, is critical to the U.S. fight against ISIS. So are the Kurdish forces, the YPGand YPJ, who have been leading the frontline fight that is squeezing the ISIS “caliphate” to its core. But in the last week those two allies against ISIS (but adversaries to one another) have collided. Suddenly, the fight against ISIS, right at the moment when it is gaining momentum, is stuck in the crossfire between Turks and Kurds, leaving American officials to de-conflict the situation among their own coalition partners.

America’s war planners once again find themselves in a situation that shows how tricky just-in-time policymaking can be when relying on local forces who have their own interests to pursue, not just Washington’s.

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