US President Donald Trump has admitted to working with groups on US and Turkish terror lists. He has also given mixed signals about his position about Turkey going into northern Syria, threatening his NATO ally with economic destruction.
US President Donald Trump’s Middle East policy, more specifically his Syria policy, seems confused and in disarray.
In the past week, Trump has blamed the PKK/YPG, recognised as a terrorist force by Turkey and the US, for not showing up in support of the US during World War II, has threatened Turkey with economic destruction, has pulled out US troops from Syria and managed to alienate both Turks and the PKK/YPG as well as his fellow party members.
On October 9, 2019, Turkey began Operation Peace Spring and entered northern Syria to rid the region of PKK/YPG terrorists and to create a safe zone at the Turkish-Syrian border.
US President Donald Trump had initially signed off on this operation by agreeing to withdraw their troops from the operation’s targeted areas. On October 7, Trump sent out a chain tweet that expressed his displeasure of the extended war in Syria and his desire to pull out US troops out of what he called a “battle with no aim in sight”.
Trump also boasted that the US “quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate [Daesh]” whose captured fighters “Europe did not want” back.
Then came another admission with Trump saying: “[T]he Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so.” He added: “They have been fighting Turkey for decades.”
According to Trump, it is time for the US to “get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars” [sic]. Trump further wrote: “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS [Daesh] fighters in their ‘neighborhood.’”
Trump met with criticism from within the Republican Party ranks about his decision to pull out US troops from the region and for “abandoning” PKK/YPG terrorists who aided the US in fighting Daesh.
Trump responded to the criticism by threatening Turkey not to carry out a planned operation in northern Syria, despite initially giving the go-ahead to the country.
The US president wrote on October 7 on Twitter: “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 (I’ve done before!)”
Trump later on October 9, 2019, spoke about how Kurds did not "help us in the Second World War; they didn't help us with Normandy," basically comparing apples and oranges and offering nonsensical remarks to bolster his decision to remove US forces from Syria.
Trump’s statement about Kurds not helping during World War II may not have been entirely accurate, however, as retired US diplomat Alberto Miguel Fernandez points out.
Syria and terrorism researcher Kyle Orton has posted a video of Donald Trump on Twitter, pointing out that the US president has openly admitted to collaborating with terrorists to fight against Daesh in Syria.
Not to belabour this point but the PKK is on the U.S. terrorism list— Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) October 10, 2019
"We like the Kurds. Now you have different factions in there ... You have PKK, that's a different faction, and they worked with us; it's a rough group, but they worked with us."
[video v @justinbaragona] pic.twitter.com/L9k5sdH0Tb
The same point is made by Turkish journalist Ragip Soylu who retweets the video in Orton’s tweet. Soylu says: “For the first time in U.S. history, a US President acknowledges on the record that US worked with PKK; a designated terror group by the State Department. While that cooperation was ongoing in 2015, a string of PKK suicide attacks killed 100s in Turkey”. [sic]
Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute has retweeted Soylu’s comments, adding: “This simple fact, that the US worked (and continues to work!) with the PKK, is by far the most important cause of the discord between Ankara and Washington. Yet in analysis after analysis, American experts either ignore it or downplay it.”
Under Trump’s rule, the United States does not seem certain whether Turkey is an ally or not, and Trump’s ever-changing temperament as evinced by his Twitter posts shows that Turkey cannot count on the US to support its military decisions as a NATO ally.