The White House’s statement early Monday, widely seen as a green light from the Trump administration to Turkey to invade Northeast Syria, has created unprecedented fear among the US allies who are asking who is next? On Monday morning, President Trump retweeted a claim that his predecessor Obama supported the Kurdish terrorist group PKK against the U.S. ally, Turkey. He threatened Turkey on the other hand with destroying their economy, as the President stated, "If Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey".
According to Reuters, his tweet brought the Turkish Lira to its weakest point in a month. The tweet was interpreted as a threat by the U.S. to Turkey not to attack Syria.
Following strong backlash from GOP leaders [(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) Grand Old Party: a nickname for the Republican Party], including a rare policy split between the President and the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, Trump’s tune on Syria seemed more shaky. Across the political spectrum, from left to far-right, lawmakers condemned Trump’s decision, which came after a phone call with Turkish President Erdoğan, calling it “reckless,” alleging it “would benefit Russia and Iran,” and suggesting that it would contribute to the reemergence of Isis.
Each hour last Monday saw a new condemnation of Trump’s decisions and Turkish invasion from US lawmakers, including politicians close to Trump like Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who also criticised the President's decision and tweeted #TurkeyisNotOurFriend, a hashtag that trended in the U.S. over the next 24 hours.
European and Israeli politicians warned that Isis terror remains an imminent threat to their nations and to the world, and they condemned any Turkish attack on Northeastern Syria and on the SDF forces that fought Isis and effectively defeated it.
At least 90 lawmakers from the Congress are making it clear, there will be sanctions and wide divisions between Turkey and the Congress if the military operation took place.
Chaos is everywhere in North-East Syria, but despite all the obstacles Turkey seems to be serious about starting the operation. Many aspects will determine how wide this operation will be including where the US government shaking decisions will go. Isis has already waged attacks on Tuesday and claimed it in its former Caliphate Capital ar-Raqqah.
Trump, who is facing challenges to his administration, is eager to fulfill his campaign promise to withdraw American troops from Syria. Washington lawmakers pointed out that the small number of U.S. troops in Syria are almost peacekeepers and are not involved in the actual war. Any withdrawal, they underlined, threatens U.S. national security and would only benefit the nation’s adversaries. This rare policy split between Trump and top GOP leaders seems more politically damaging to Trump than any benefits garnered from fulfilling his campaign promise.
Erdoğan, on the other hand, who has seen his popularity decline since his rise to power 11 years ago, is pushing for a “Safe Zone” inside Syria where he plans to relocate the millions of refugees who have crossed the borders and are posing a challenge for Turkey. Furthermore, by taking a hard line against the Kurds, he hopes to raise his support among ultra-nationalists.
What’s certain is that President Trump threw Syrian and US foreign policies into turmoil that will result in the US loss for many of its powers and ability to gain the trust of its allies in the Middle East. Only a month ago, Trump degraded the US historical relations with the Gulf allies telling them that “we don’t really need your oil as the US is becoming the first oil exporter in the world!” In a very similar move to what Trump is doing today with the Kurds, he retreated from responding to the attacks on the largest oil facility in the world in Saudi Arabia, neglecting the fact that his own “Maximum Pressure” policy contributed to the attacks on Saudi Arabia.
Trump is thinking like Obama who believed that doing nothing in Syria means nothing will happen to the US. Isis ended up waging 51 attacks in European cities and San Bernardino-California in the US where 16 Americans were killed.
As the hours are passing, Turkey started its air campaign against SDF in Syria but no Turkish backed militias entered the Syrian side yet and no details yet from Turkey about the scale and the width of the operation. Turkey is also feeling the pressure and trying to shape an operation with less ramifications on its economy and its international position. It’s certain though now that the operation will take place but not clear how deep.
The Syrian Democratic Forces who defeated Isis with US backing are waiting for the attacks on the Syrian side of the borders and saying that they are ready to fight. As the fight will start, a new wave of violence and refugees will break out in Syria and the eco of a bloody war will be damaging for the US ability to gain credibility or build alliances in the Middle East region that one day was a crucial tool for al-Qaeda terrorist group that waged the largest and bloodiest terror attacks on the US homeland.
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