Steven Sahiounie, Middle East observer
President Trump will save the American taxpayer millions of dollars in a surprising reversal of US foreign, and military policy in northeastern Syria. In a White House statement delivered late Sunday night by Stephanie Grisham, “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.
The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.” In his newest flop-flop, Trump has given Turkey the green light to invade northeastern Syria, while the 1,000 US troops withdraw, and the US-allied Kurds face danger from the US betrayal.
Trump had made a key 2016 campaign promise to get the troops out of Syria; however, after he announced his 2018 decision Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned in protest, and later national security adviser John Bolton tried to build a case why the US should protect the Kurds. With both of those officials gone from the White House, Trump could finally take action.
On Saturday, Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, emailed the Kurdish media, Rudaw, “Any uncoordinated military operation by Turkey would be of grave concern as it would undermine our shared interest of a secure northeast Syria and the enduring defeat of ISIS,” and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that “We’ve made clear that this conflict shouldn’t be militarized.” However, the phone call between Trump and President Erdogan on Sunday resulted in Turkey taking over the management of the ISIS prison. “Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years in the wake of the defeat of the territorial ‘Caliphate’ by the United States,” the White House statement said.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had been guarding the prison and the Al Hol camp which present a horrific display of Radical Islamic ideology and the aftermath of defeating ISIS. Previously, reports by the US military had warned of a possible resurgence in ISIS and insisted that the US military must remain in Syria. Experts have said the threat of a renewed ISIS emanated from the Al Hol camp, as the females associated with ISIS were in many cases more radical than the male prisoners, and were teaching their children to be the next wave of ISIS.
Trump had his eye on the bottom-line and saw a way to relinquish the financial burden of caring for prisoners, and their families, who no one wants. The various home countries of the prisoners and families have overwhelmingly refused to repatriate their citizens and instead left these unwanted to be fed and guarded by the SDF, who was the only US ally in Syria, and are funded and supported by the US: at least up until yesterday. The SDF is now cut-off from US support and protection.
This is the last chance for the SDF and their political wing to negotiate with Damascus. The Kurds are no match for the Turkish military, but if they repair their relationship with the Syrian government, they would be protected when the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) enters the northeast. Once the SAA take up positions and the SDF lay down their arms and heavy weapons, the Turkish military can declare their mission to remove terrorists from the northeast of Syria is over, and Turkey could go home. Russia and Turkey have an excellent relationship, and Russia could be an integral part of the negotiations to secure northeastern Syria safe from any threat to Turkey’s security.
Some analysts worry that Turkey may have long term territorial ambitions in northern Syria. Erdogan has re-written international law with his invasion into Syria to create a ‘safe zone’, despite not having any evidence of a security threat, which may prompt more countries to follow this trend. Recently, Erdogan approved three new university campuses in Jarabulus, Al-Bab, and Afrin, all in northern Syrian border communities previously invaded by Turkey from 2016 to 2018. Turkey occupied Afrin and ethnically cleansed the area of 160,000 Kurds. Erdogan plans to use the ‘safe zone’ to resettle millions of Syrian refugees now living in Turkey. Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. Ankara has so far spent $40 billion on the refugees. Erdogan had threatened to allow refugees to flood into Europe if he was not allowed to invade Syria and set up the ‘safe zone’. The EU had promised Turkey 6 billion euros to stop refugees from crossing from Turkey to Greece, and to aid the refugees in Turkey; however, the EU has not fulfilled their promise.
This article is original published at MideastDiscourse