Turkey’s war of attrition against Syria’s Kurds

Displaced families are gripped with fear as Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatens to mount yet another offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led group that crushed IS in Syria.

Turkey insists that the SDF poses a threat to its national security because many of the American-backed group’s Kurdish leaders have links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a rebel army that has been fighting Turkey since 1984 for Kurdish self-rule. Since 2016, Turkey has mounted three large-scale incursions against the SDF, occupying large chunks of northern Syria where lawlessness and rights abuses are rampant.

Turkish leader has grown increasingly erratic in recent months as his poll numbers slip in the face of a growing economic crisis, much of it of his own making. War could serve as a distraction.