Why has Obama "authorized further activities to secure the rest"?
Because no one in Washington believes that the US-backed jihadis will beat the combined forces of the Russian-led coalition which is gradually annihilating the terrorist militias across Syria. So now, Obama is moving on to Plan B, the creation of a terrorist sanctuary on the Syrian side of the Syrian-Turkish border where the US and its partners can continue to arm, train and deploy their jihadi maniacs back into Syria whenever they choose to do so. Undoubtedly, Obama's Special Forces will be used to oversee this operation and to make sure that everything goes according to plan.
There is, of course, a question about the Kurdish militias role in this strategy. Recently, the US has air-dropped pallet-loads of weapons and ammo to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) hoping the group could help the US secure the last stretch of land along the border west of the Euphrates thus keeping vital supplylines open for the jihadis while establishing a safe haven on Syrian territory. Erdogan violently opposes any operation that will create a contiguous Kurdish state on the Syrian side of the border.
So how will this situation be resolved? Will Obama stick with the Kurds or realign with Erdogan in exchange for Turkish boots on the ground?
No one knows just yet, but certainly a Turkish-US alliance would be more formidable than a PYD-US coalition. Judging by Washington's long history of choosing the most expedient solution to achieve its policy goals, we expect Obama to align himself with Ankara.
It's worth noting that the Turkish parliament already "approved a possible deployment of Turkish ground forces in Syria and opened the door to basing foreign troops in Turkey" back in October 2014. Using the pretext of "fighting terrorism" as an excuse for invasion, Erdogan said, "We are open and ready for any kind of cooperation"However, Turkey is not a country that will allow itself to be used for temporary solutions... The immediate removal of the administration in Damascus, Syria's territorial unity and the installation of an administration which embraces all will continue to be our priority."
In other words, Erdogan will not provide ground troops unless the US says it is committed to regime change.
Erdogan has been the strongest proponent of "safe zones," an idea that would require US warplanes to patrol the skies over Northern Syria with small groups of US troops on the ground. The plan greatly increases the probability of an unexpected clash with Russian warplanes that could lead to a direct confrontation between the two nuclear-armed adversaries.
Now check out this article that appeared in the UK Telegraph in June 2015, that was clearly premature in its prediction. The piece is titled "Turkey 'planning to invade Syria'":
"President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has authorised a change in the rules of engagement agreed by the Turkish parliament to allow the army to strike at Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), as well as the Assad regime, according to local newspapers. The aim is to establish a buffer zone for refugees and against Isil...
"Turkey has urged the creation of a buffer zone protected by international forces in the north of Syria ever since the civil war sent hundreds of thousands of refugees across the border...
"Turkish media were briefed on new orders being given to the military to prepare to send an 18,000-strong force across the border"The troops would seize a stretch of territory 60 miles long by 20 deep, including the border crossings of Jarablus, currently in Isil hands, and Aazaz, currently controlled by the Free Syrian Army (FSA)"(Turkey 'planning to invade Syria, Telegraph)
Readers will notice the striking similarity between Erdogan's plan and the Brookings strategy. Washington and Ankara seem to share the same view of how Syria should be carved up following the prospective invasion. That said, it would be surprising if Erdogan and Obama are not able to iron-out their differences and settle on a way to achieve their common objective.
Erdogan has put considerable effort into removing the obstacles preventing him from launching an invasion on Syria. He's gotten the greenlight from Parliament to deploy the army if he feels there is a threat to Turkey's national security. He's effectively "internationalized" the conflict by allowing the US, UK and French warplanes to fly out of Incirlik (which will absolve Erdogan and his minions from future legal accountability or war crimes). And, finally, the elections provided Erdogan with the mandate he needed to convince the military that his foreign policy has the full-backing of the Turkish people. So now that he has his ducks in a row, the only question is whether he will actually launch the invasion or not?
On Wednesday, Turkish foreign minister Feridun Sinirlioglu confirmed that Erdogan is planning to invade Syria under the pretext of "fighting terrorism". Here's an excerpt from an article in the Daily Sabah:
"Turkey has plans to launch a military operation against ISIS in the near future, the Turkish foreign minister said on Wednesday. Feridun Sinirlioğlu was at a conference on the future of Middle East, held in Erbil in northern Iraq's Kurdish region.