The latest in a brutal series of attacks in Turkey demonstrated the growing terrorist threat that country faces — but it also highlighted the discord between Ankara and its important ally in Washington over the leading Kurdish political party in northern Syria (PYD). While Turkey views the PYD as an extension of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the United States relies on PYD forces fighting against the self-proclaimed Islamic State group (ISIS) in Syria. This discord is increasingly creating greater concern in Turkey.
It is time for Ankara to shift its paradigm toward the PYD, but it will need U.S. support to do so. Turkey needs to realize that it cannot ask Washington to choose between Turkey and the PYD, and that it does not need to. Turkey needs to offer normalization with the PYD in exchange for that organization’s changing some of its policies that attract international criticism. And the United States should back Turkey’s conditions, both in Ankara’s interests, and its own.