Turkey's alert to NATO while increasing its involvement in the Syrian war threatens to drag the United States further into an already complex Middle Eastern conflict.

Citing a threat to its "territorial integrity, political independence or security," Turkey called an emergency meeting Tuesday of NATO in Brussels. It was only the fifth such meeting in the alliance's 66-year history. The 28 NATO countries promised Turkey their full support.

Unfortunately, the new game plan gets complicated for the United States as Turkey seeks indirect NATO approval of its air attacks against Syrian Kurdish forces and elements of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, in Syria. America does not support the separatist PKK, but PKK forces have been effective in combating the Islamic State, now considered America's number one enemy in the Middle East.

Perhaps even worse, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated that the 2013 truce between his government and the PKK is over, with negotiations no longer possible. Turkey is concerned about the momentum building toward formation of a Kurdish state, since 20 to 25 percent of its people are Kurds, an ethnic group also found in Iran, Iraq and Syria. The United States has provided support to the Kurds, including military aid, since the first Gulf War in the 1990s.

With all of these moving parts, the conflict has become more complicated for America. Washington would do well to refine its policy and its role.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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