The Washington Free Beacon reports that the Trump Administration has decided to provide the Kurdish YPG with small arms, including rifles, machine guns, and mortars, along with ammunition, with a view for the rebel force assisting in the taking of Raqqa. Raqqa is the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria, containing currently some 4,000 fighters. The taking of the town is central to American strategy in destroying the terrorist army in Syria. However, the move places the United States on a collision course with its ally Turkey, which regards the Syrian Kurd force as part of a terrorist group that is trying to create a separate Kurdish nation, partly on Turkish territory.

Not coincidentally, President Trump is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a NATO summit expected to take place in Washington. Erdogan has received sharp criticism for establishing an authoritarian regime in Ankara, reversing some progress toward democratization that had taken place in the early 21st Century. The Turkish president’s flirtation with Islamist parties has also caused some worry. Turkey has been a secular country ever since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of a Turkish Republic under Kemal Ataturk. Even so, Turkey’s commitment to democracy has always been tenuous at best, with more than one military coup having overthrown elected governments.

A recent attempted coup has provided Erdogan an excuse to crack down on opponents.

Erdogan has also tried to extend Turkey’s influence in the Middle East, taking advantage of the Syrian Civil War. He has taken a decidedly anti-Israeli stance, supporting Palestinian national aspirations and criticizing Israeli treatment of Arabs within its control.

The Israelis have countered that the Turkish leader is in no position to lecture others about human rights abuses.

The upshot is that Turkey has become an impediment toward finding a solution to the Syria mess that does not include either ISIS or the regime of Bashar Assad. Trump recently launched a cruise missile attack on a Syrian government airbase from which a chemical weapons attack was launched against civilians in rebel-held territory.

Destroying ISIS remains the most immediate goal of American policy. ISIS represents a threat that extends beyond the Middle East. The terrorist army has inspired attacks in both Europe and the United States that have taken hundreds of innocent lived. The offensive against Raqqa, which is said to be all but isolated, as well as the one against Mosul in Iraq, is designed to destroy the so-called caliphate that ISIS had carved out for itself, denying that group a base from which to launch attacks on the western world.