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An Ankara rally in support of the Turkish military's attack on YPG soliders in Syria. Photo: Adem Altan / AFP / Getty Images

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's trip to Turkey offers a reminder that while Turks are divided 50-50 on many political issues — including their feelings toward President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — they broadly oppose the U.S. policy of working with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.

Why it matters: Most Turks object to U.S. partnership with the YPG — an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is viewed as a terrorist group by Turkey and its NATO allies. Secretary Tillerson needs to assure the Turks that the U.S. policy was a temporary and tactical alliance, and that Washington is ready to wean itself away from the YPG now that the Islamic State has been defeated in Syria.

Washington shouldn't worry too much about upsetting the YPG with such a shift in policy. The YPG seeks international legitimacy for the areas it controls in Syria, collectively dubbed Rojava. Yet the YPG knows that a split from the U.S. would force Rojava to fold under Moscow,  becoming a Syrian version of Transnistria  — Moldova’s breakaway republic now under Russian military occupation and lacking any international legitimacy. 

The bottom line: Secretary Tillerson has the opportunity to turn around the U.S.'s deteriorating relationship with Turkey if he can convince Ankara that the U.S.–YPG alliance is winding down.

Soner Cagaptay is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author of "The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey."

Go deeper

Former Sen. David Perdue to launch bid for Georgia governor

Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Former Senator David Perdue (R) plans to announce a campaign against Georgia's incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp Monday, according to a source familiar with Perdue's thinking.

Why it matters: Perdue's challenge to his former ally Kemp sets up an unprecedented "scorched earth" battle between Georgia Republicans fueled by former President Donald Trump, in the battleground state. The news was first reported by Politico.

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.