Oct 08 2019

U.S. withdrawal leaves Syria policy in tatters - NYT

President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw from Syria knocks the bottom out of U.S. Syria policy, the New York Times said in an editorial.

The U.S. policy in Syria was to fight Islamic State (ISIS) with forces led by the People's Protection Units (YPG) and find a middle way with Turkey since Ankara views the YPG and affiliated organisations as terrorist groups due to their links to Kurdish militants in Turkey. 

President Donald Trump, however, reversed U.S. policy after a phone conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday and gave the green light for a Turkish military incursion into the Syrian Kurdish-held region.

"Even if the Turks do not invade - and while the president’s tweets on Monday indicated he might be rethinking his green light to the Turks, there were reports that attacks had already begun - the decision may destroy any trust the Kurds, America’s crucial partner in Syria, had left," the NYT said.

If Kurdish forces in Syria do face a Turkish offensive, they will concentrate their forces for defence and the fight against ISIS will be hindered, according to NYT.

Trump's decision has been also met with criticism in Washington, including well-known supporters of the president such as Lindsey Graham who threatened Turkey with sanctions and suspension from NATO.

"It may seem paradoxical, but in caving in to one of the strongmen he so admires, Mr. Trump may have set the United States on a collision course with Turkey," NYT said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/opinion/trump-syria-erdogan-turkey.html