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Trump’s Syria pullout begins as US armoured vehicles depart Trump’s Syria pullout begins as US armoured vehicles depart
(4 days later)
US forces have begun pulling out from Syria, sparking fresh fears of abandonment among Kurdish allies less than a day after the the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, pledged a new beginning in the Middle East in which “our allies depend on us to follow through”.US forces have begun pulling out from Syria, sparking fresh fears of abandonment among Kurdish allies less than a day after the the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, pledged a new beginning in the Middle East in which “our allies depend on us to follow through”.
Ten armoured vehicles involved in the fight against Islamic State (Isis) crossed from eastern Syria into Iraq on Friday morning. The US military acknowledged the pullout but said no troops had left and refused to reveal the areas from which the battle trucks had withdrawn.Ten armoured vehicles involved in the fight against Islamic State (Isis) crossed from eastern Syria into Iraq on Friday morning. The US military acknowledged the pullout but said no troops had left and refused to reveal the areas from which the battle trucks had withdrawn.
The move comes three weeks after Donald Trump’s surprise announcement ordering the withdrawal of 2,000 US troops and declaring a military victory over Isis, against which US forces had waged a four-year campaign alongside Kurdish forces it had raised for such a purpose.The move comes three weeks after Donald Trump’s surprise announcement ordering the withdrawal of 2,000 US troops and declaring a military victory over Isis, against which US forces had waged a four-year campaign alongside Kurdish forces it had raised for such a purpose.
Trump’s decision has been widely cast as unilateral and premature by critics who had insisted that it would expose the Kurds to attacks by Turkey, and allow the remnants of Isis along the Iraqi-Syrian border to regenerate. The move led to the resignation of the US defense secretary, James Mattis, and Washington’s envoy for the war against Isis, Brett McGurk.Trump’s decision has been widely cast as unilateral and premature by critics who had insisted that it would expose the Kurds to attacks by Turkey, and allow the remnants of Isis along the Iraqi-Syrian border to regenerate. The move led to the resignation of the US defense secretary, James Mattis, and Washington’s envoy for the war against Isis, Brett McGurk.
Both men quit amid the furore over the fate of the Kurds. In the weeks preceding the decision, Ankara had massed an invasion force near its southern border with Syria, insisting it was readying to drive Kurdish militant groups from the country’s north-east.Both men quit amid the furore over the fate of the Kurds. In the weeks preceding the decision, Ankara had massed an invasion force near its southern border with Syria, insisting it was readying to drive Kurdish militant groups from the country’s north-east.
Adding to the uncertainty, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Sunday that the US would not be leaving until it had received guarantees from Turkey that its allies would not be attacked once US forces had gone.Adding to the uncertainty, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Sunday that the US would not be leaving until it had received guarantees from Turkey that its allies would not be attacked once US forces had gone.
Washington’s proxies in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are drawn from the umbrella YPG militia. Although Kurdish led, the SDF ranks include Arabs who had led the fight to reclaim cities such as Raqqa and nearby towns and villages. Many had hailed from the same areas before being forced into exile during the years of Isis occupation that started when the group swept through the region from mid-2013.Washington’s proxies in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are drawn from the umbrella YPG militia. Although Kurdish led, the SDF ranks include Arabs who had led the fight to reclaim cities such as Raqqa and nearby towns and villages. Many had hailed from the same areas before being forced into exile during the years of Isis occupation that started when the group swept through the region from mid-2013.
Senior members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, against which Turkey has fought a long guerrilla war inside its borders, have also played a role in the fighting and have taken prominent positions in civilian institutions inside Syria’s north-east. Their involvement has added to Turkish fears that the insurgency would emerge emboldened from the war in Syria, and particularly by US weapons and financing.Senior members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, against which Turkey has fought a long guerrilla war inside its borders, have also played a role in the fighting and have taken prominent positions in civilian institutions inside Syria’s north-east. Their involvement has added to Turkish fears that the insurgency would emerge emboldened from the war in Syria, and particularly by US weapons and financing.
Before his Cairo address on Thursday, in which he pledged a “reinvigorated US role in the Middle East, Pompeo said of the SDF: “These have been folks that have fought with us and it’s important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected.”Before his Cairo address on Thursday, in which he pledged a “reinvigorated US role in the Middle East, Pompeo said of the SDF: “These have been folks that have fought with us and it’s important that we do everything we can to ensure that those folks that fought with us are protected.”
In the Egyptian capital he followed up those remarks by saying: “If we commit American prestige to an action, our allies depend on us to follow through.” Trump too had appeared to retreat from his insistence in December that troops would leave now. “We will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight Isis and doing all else that is prudent and necessary,” he said earlier this week.In the Egyptian capital he followed up those remarks by saying: “If we commit American prestige to an action, our allies depend on us to follow through.” Trump too had appeared to retreat from his insistence in December that troops would leave now. “We will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight Isis and doing all else that is prudent and necessary,” he said earlier this week.
The schism between the president and veteran generals who had drafted his regional strategy has been starkly exposed by the Kurdish decision.The schism between the president and veteran generals who had drafted his regional strategy has been starkly exposed by the Kurdish decision.
Turkey says it will launch Syria offensive if US delays pulloutTurkey says it will launch Syria offensive if US delays pullout
Pompeo and Bolton have both attempted to slow the move and convince Trump that the US departing would strengthen the hand of Iran, which has eyed Syria’s north-east as a potential zone of influence and has been busy consolidating a land corridor into Syria.Pompeo and Bolton have both attempted to slow the move and convince Trump that the US departing would strengthen the hand of Iran, which has eyed Syria’s north-east as a potential zone of influence and has been busy consolidating a land corridor into Syria.
Officials believed they had won the argument, especially on Iran, but the departure of a first convoy signals another phase in a to and fro that has baffled allies and foes alike.Officials believed they had won the argument, especially on Iran, but the departure of a first convoy signals another phase in a to and fro that has baffled allies and foes alike.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said this week that Bolton had made a “big mistake” in making the US withdrawal conditional on Turkish guarantees for the safety of the Kurds. Russia, which had enthusiastically welcomed Trump’s announcement, said on Friday that Washington was no longer serious about leaving.The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said this week that Bolton had made a “big mistake” in making the US withdrawal conditional on Turkish guarantees for the safety of the Kurds. Russia, which had enthusiastically welcomed Trump’s announcement, said on Friday that Washington was no longer serious about leaving.
SyriaSyria
US militaryUS military
US foreign policyUS foreign policy
Middle East and North AfricaMiddle East and North Africa
Donald TrumpDonald Trump
Mike PompeoMike Pompeo
Recep Tayyip ErdoğanRecep Tayyip Erdoğan
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