Trump’s former ISIS envoy McGurk slams Syria withdrawal
The former U.S. Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk has said U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria is impulsive, with no understanding of the situation on the ground.
The U.S. president has effectively “provided a gift to Russia, Iran, and ISIS” through the move, CNBC news quoted McGurk as saying.
“The ‘United States’ is not holding any ISIS detainees,” said the former envoy in a Twitter thread. “They are all being held by the SDF, which Trump just served up to Turkey.”
The WH statement tonight on Syria after Trump spoke with Erdogan demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground. The “United States” is not holding any ISIS detainees. They are all being held by the SDF, which Trump just served up to Turkey. pic.twitter.com/vYr7j0q6mR— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) October 7, 2019
A White House statement released on Sunday evening, following a phone call between Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the morning, had said Turkey would be launching a military incursion into Syria soon, and that U.S. troops would not be in the immediate area during the incursion.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has received support from the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIS since 2014, and currently controls a significant part of northern Syria, where it also holds some 60 thousand ISIS detainees in prison camps.
Officials from the SDF have said security in said camps could falter if Turkey launches an operation into their territory, as forces will have to be diverted to defence positions.
Turkey has long been planning an incursion into northern Syria as Ankara considers the SDF and its main constituent majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group engaged in a decades-long conflict over Kurdish self-rule.
The United States and Turkey in August had come to an agreement to establish a safe zone along the Turkish border within Kurdish-held northern Syrian territory, but Turkey has since announced plans for unilateral action over expressed dissatisfaction with the progress made.
The safe zone that Turkey proposed would “effectively extend Turkey’s border 30km into Syria,” said McGurk in the same twitter thread.
The Turkish proposed “safe zone” would effectively extend Turkey’s border 30km into Syria, including areas of Christians, Kurds, and other vulnerable minorities. Our diplomats were working on a plan to forestall such a debacle. Where’s Pompeo?https://t.co/t2EMqoTqHk— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) October 7, 2019
President Trump had first announced plans to pull troops out of Syria in late 2018, which would have allowed for a Turkish operation against Kurdish forces, but the decision was later reversed upon significant backlash from both Republicans and Democrats in U.S. Congress.
A Syrian Kurdish official who spoke to NBC News called the Americans “traitors” and said the U.S. abandoned Syrian Kurds “to a Turkish massacre.”
Syria Kurdish official told us, reacting to Trump’s overnight decision.— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) October 7, 2019
“The Americans are traitors. They have abandoned us to a Turkish massacre.
We can no longer fight against isis and have to defend ourselves. This could allow isis to return to the region.”
SDF Spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Monday, “It seems that the policy of the United States is to betray their friends and allies,” as quoted by NBC News.
McGurk said Trump “blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff.”