Conflict in Syria Worsens after Trump’s Bluff
The situation in Syria is rapidly deteriorating on all fronts.
After years of the Kurds battling ISIS with their allies the US forces, the ethnic group has been abandoned following Trump’s order to withdraw US military from the region. This comes after the Turkish president’s announcement to invade Syria.
For more than two years, President Donald Trump has been calling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s bluff. Trump, along with some of his senior advisors, believed that Erdoğan would never actually follow through with his long-threatened Syria invasion, according to six sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
In previous conversations, Trump had warned the Turkish president that he would have to “own whatever mess ensued” in the region, such as ISIS, international condemnation, and trouble from Capitol Hill while warning of the US presence there. When hearing about such stark terms, Erdoğan would back down on his threats.
However, while waiting for US forces and their Kurdish allies (whom Turkey sees as terrorists), to defeat ISIS, Erdoğan could see the US’ commitment waning. On 6th October, Axios reported that the Turkish president told Trump about a planned military operation that was about to go ahead — and in response, the US president quickly ordered the withdrawal of the remaining US forces from the region.
Axios reports that even Erdoğan was surprised at how quickly Trump acceded to his demands, expecting a compromise or a negotiation instead.
Even administration officials are under order to deny that Trump gave Erdoğan the go-signal to invade North-eastern Syria, despite all indications to the contrary. For instance, after the Turkish leader announced his intentions to invade Syria, Trump invited him to the White House, which is one of the most coveted rewards that only the US president can bestow. Not to mention, while his people are instructed to lie on his behalf, Trump continues to flash a green light on Twitter, echoing Turkey’s view of the Kurds as terrorists — a stark contrast to his provisions of support to the Kurds.
Trump’s continued baseless tweets about the invasion continue to worsen the situation, as The Guardian reports that he has also suggested that the Kurds were responsible for freeing ISIS prisoners during Turkey’s offensive against Syria. This is due to reports by the local government in the region that at least 750 people with suspected links to the Islamic State have fled a displacement camp located in North-eastern Syria, the forefront of the invasion. This isn’t the first time that the US president’s Twitter musings have created massive ripples of change across national borders and industry lines, as FXCM details some of his tirades against the likes of China and even Amazon and Boeing, which all suffered material losses after his negative Tweets went viral. While these tweets have affected the shares of such companies, the case of Trump’s most recent accusations against the Kurds, which are supposedly the US’ long-time allies in an unstable region, have cost countless lives and a 5-year Syria strategy in the making.
The US military is also unlikely to forgive being ordered to cut and run while watching a vital ally get crushed by forces they could have quickly taken on together. Additionally, the next time the US forces look for local ground troops to support them, they will have a much harder time now given their newfound reputation to abandon their comrades. This begs the question: Who will fight with America now?
After three years under Trump’s reign, America itself may find it a difficult question to answer. The US president has showered praise on adversaries such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un while insulting allies in Europe and Asia. Not to mention, the war with Syria isn’t the only war the president is facing — this is coming alongside Trump’s tariff war with China’s President Xi Jinping, as well as the looming threat of his own impeachment inquiry.