Trump is crediting his threat of sanctions on Turkey as ‘tough love’ that led the country to agree to a five-day ceasefire in its battle with Kurds in northern Syria.
By Associated Press
The U.S. and Turkey agreed Thursday to a five-day ceasefire in the Turks’ attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria to allow the Kurds to withdraw to roughly 20 miles away from the Turkish border. The arrangement appeared to be a significant embrace of Turkey’s position in the weeklong conflict.
After more than four hours of negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the purpose of his high-level mission was to end the bloodshed caused by Turkey’s invasion of Syria. He remained silent on whether the agreement amounted to a second abandonment of America’s former Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State.
Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters launched their offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria a week ago, two days after Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the area.
Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lauded the deal as a significant achievement, and Trump declared it “a great day for civilization.”
Kurdish forces were not party to the agreement, and it was not immediately clear whether they would comply. Before the talks, the Kurds indicated they would object to any agreement along the lines of what was announced by Pence. But Pence maintained that the U.S. had obtained “repeated assurances from them that they’ll be moving out.”
Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate as a terrorist organization.
Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops has been widely condemned, including by Republican officials not directly associated with his administration. Republicans and Democrats in the House, bitterly divided over the Trump impeachment inquiry, banded together Wednesday for an overwhelming 354-60 denunciation of the U.S. troop withdrawal.
Trump has denied that his action provided a “green light” for Turkey to move against the longtime U.S. battlefield partners or that he was opening the way for a revival of the Islamic State group and raising worldwide doubts about U.S. faithfulness to its allies.
President Donald Trump is crediting his threat of sanctions on Turkey as “tough love” that led the country to agree to a five-day ceasefire in its battle with Kurds in northern Syria.
Talking to reporters in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday, Trump said the Kurds are happy with the deal.