The White House has announced a team of special operations forces numbering less than 50 will be sent to Syria. This marks the first sustained U.S. troop presence in Syria since President Obama launched a bombing campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in September 2014. It’s also a reversal of Obama’s repeated promise of no U.S. boots on the ground in Syria, a pledge he also violated in Iraq. One day after the announcement, the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross made what they called an "unprecedented joint warning" for states to end wars, respect international law and aid the 60 million refugees made homeless from recent conflicts. We are joined by Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, author of several books, including "Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror."
The U.S. deployment of a team of special operations forces to Syria comes after the first U.S. combat casualty in Iraq in four years. Just last month, President Obama reversed course in Afghanistan, halting the scheduled withdrawal of U.S. troops fighting in the nation’s longest war. In an escalation of the air war in Syria, the United States has also announced plans to deploy more fighter planes, including 12 F-15s, to the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. On top of the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, the U.S. continues to carry out drone strikes across the globe from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia. "[Obama’s] policy has been one of mission creep," says Andrew Bacevich, retired colonel, Vietnam War veteran, and international relations professor at Boston University. "The likelihood that the introduction of a handful of dozen of U.S. soldiers making any meaningful difference in the course of events is just about nil."
The new U.S. deployment to Syria comes more than a year after it launched a bombing campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. It also comes weeks after Russia escalated its role by launching airstrikes against foes of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, says that while the military dimension in Syria is escalating, the foreign powers involved could be a step closer to seeking a diplomatic resolution.
In Turkey, the party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has regained its parliamentary majority in national elections. On Sunday, Turkish voters elected Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party—the AKP—to 330 of the Parliament’s 550 seats. It’s a major comeback for the AKP after losing its majority in the last campaign five months ago. The victory will help Erdogan strengthen a hold on power critics say has become increasingly authoritarian and divisive. We are joined from Istanbul by Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, who has been reporting on the Turkish elections.
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