This could have major policy implications for the region and for Europe. After a phone call with one of his gallery-of-strongmen, Turkish president, Recep Erdogan, who’s goons famously beat up Turkish-American protesters on American soil in 2018, the administration has apparently given the Turkish military carte blanche to cross the border into Kurdish territory at a time of Turkey’s choosing.
Trump released big statement late Sunday on US allowing Turkey into the safe zone in northeast Syria. Turkey wants to go in to attack the Kurds there, who are close partners with the US military & are critical in fighting ISIS. US mil & senior State officials have opposed this. pic.twitter.com/LyX7TSJglW
— Edward Wong (@ewong) October 7, 2019
This will not go over well with the Pentagon or State Dept middle management. They’re not in the habit of sentencing allies to a potential death sentence at the hands of the Turks and the Russians on the other side of the last stronghold of Syrian rebels centered around the province of Idlib in Northwestern Syria.
Abandoning the Kurds in exchange for Turkey taking ISIS war prisoners. We have no principles any more.
— Professor Dean Moriarty 🗽 (@armpit_alien) October 7, 2019
Things to know:
1. The Syrians, Russians, and Iranians are using the pretext of eradicating the last ‘terrorist stronghold’ in Syria, in a situational alliance, with Idlib as its target, as a reason to mass tanks and troops over the past weeks.
2. Though held by thousands of Al-Queda allies and Islamic radicals HTS, it is also home to the last of the anti-Assad secular rebels. Along with over 2 million civilians.
3. The American presence, along with their Kurdish allies, have held positions in the area, both to prevent people from leaving along with any Islamists, but also to protect them from a Russian-reconstituted Syrian army, whose spokesperson, Husam Husain, indicated the ‘extermination’ of every last ‘terrorist’ on Saturday. Exactly how the Russian, Syrian, and Iranian militias would determine who was a terrorist and who was a civilian, went unanswered.
4. After the 2014 refugee crisis, the EU agreed to pay Turkey $1.6 billion to house Syrian refugees on Syrian soil. Some have called this a form of soft extortion, and the EU has been reluctant to honor the deal, even as Turkey has cooperated in shutting off the refugee flow to Europe across its borders since 2014. Turkey has used this to complain to Trump (not a typo) that the EU is a dishonest partner, something Trump is all too happy to hear.
4. The United States government, late Sunday night, announced after a phone call between Trump and Erdogan, that it would not stand in the way of a Turkish incursion into Kurdish territory to reach Idlib. Anyone who believes the Turkish army would leave territory it has coveted on its southern border for decades once it has occupied it is dreaming. This essentially abandons the Kurdish militias who died fighting under US command, to the Russians, Iranians, and the Syrian army and, if successful, will redraw the border between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Putin will have a thankful ally and reinstalled thug, in President Bashar al Assad, in the heart of the Middle East. Iran will have safe borders between Iraq and Syria, the better to consolidate it’s political control of Iraq, already under threat by massive protests in Baghdad due to a lack of jobs, violence, and political gridlock.
5. If a bloodbath causes 2 million civilian refugees to once again try for EU borders, either by land or by sea, it could destabilize Brussels and the EU. Experts on all sides are predicting a messy chaos, scrambling the region, and with possibly serious implications for European politics.
It could be a matter of days or a matter of weeks, but something is about to blow up in the Middle East because Trump wants to do his bff’s in the area a ‘favor’, change the narrative in Washington while sticking it to our European allies. Now, that’s ‘winning’ in TrumpWorld.