U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to move several hundred American soldiers out of the way as Turkey poises to invade southeast Syria is bad news for America’s allies in the region. Trump thereby gave a green light to a dangerous Turkish move while ditching America’s most reliable allies in Syria: the Kurdish fighters.
>> Election results are in. Subscribe now – save 30%
The president’s move paves the way for other players in the Syrian arena to realize their interests. First and foremost is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but ISIS, as well, and indirectly, the Bashar Assad regime in Syria and its two main supporters, Russia and Iran. From Jerusalem’s perspective, it is another warning sign that this president – until recently presented as Israel’s greatest friend ever in Washington – can’t be trusted.
– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 43
Haaretz Weekly Ep. 43Haaretz
>> Read more: Israel caught by complete surprise at Trump's Syria withdrawal decision ■ As far as Trump is concerned, the Kurds did their job and can now go to hell | Analysis ■ What does Turkey really want by invading Kurdish Syria?
Trump seems to shy away from any American military involvement whatsoever in the Middle East. In that, he shares the reservations of his predecessor in the White House, Barack Obama. In December 2018, after declaring victory over ISIS, Trump announced he would be removing all 2,000 American soldiers from Syrian soil. His statement peeved U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who quit, but in any case the decision was blurred down the line. The U.S. still has more than 1,000 soldiers in Syria’s northeast corner – mainly intelligence and commando units, and units operating missile batteries in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an association of anti-Assad groups whose main constituent is the Kurds.
The Kurds, backed by the Americans, blocked the Syrian army from taking back this region and at the same time, stymied an ISIS resurgence. At the al-Hol refugee camp, about 70,000 people hailing from areas controlled by ISIS remain under loose Kurdish supervision. Many are family members of the jihadi terrorists and the camp is considered a hotbed of violent radical fundamentalism. Turkey’s conquest of the area could scatter these refugees far and wide, and intensify the potential threat from the next generation of ISIS.