Last December when President Trump promised to pull all American Troops out of Syria and let the Turks keep the peace and take care of ISIS (a promise Trump made after a phone call with Erdogan), I said that this was Trump’s Neville Chamberlain moment.
Well now, the chickens have come home to roost.
Even though Trump back-peddled somewhat on his original promise by enacting only a partial pullout while leaving a small handful of advisors behind to continue helping the Kurds clean out ISIS holdouts, a token force will not be sufficient to stop a megalomaniac like Erdogan.
He has already annexed the N.W. Syria region of Afrin (which is part of the Aleppo province) and mostly ethnic-cleansed the place of all the Kurds, Christian, and Yazidis. And now he wants more. After assuming total control of Afrin he moved south into Idlib province where Turks are now being tested by the Assad regime and pressured by Russia to halt their advance.
Trump’s original withdrawal agreement with Erdogan was supposed to keep Erdogan from crossing the Euphrates into N.E. Syria, which is what he wants to do now. This is the territory of the YPG Kurds who formed the bulk of Syrian Democratic Forces we supported, along with some Christians and Yazidis.
Erdogan’s goal in Syria’s N.E. is the Hasaka province, where our YPG Kurds hold sway along with some Christians, and Yazidis. These people know what will happen to them when and if the Turks are allowed in.
In order for the Turks to reach the Hasaka province which lies east of the Euphrates is to pass through at least part of the Aleppo province that they haven’t conquered yet, and the Raqqa province.
Believe it or not, It sounds like someone in the administration has finally woken up to the fact that Turkey is a serious danger to regional security because:
News has recently broken that the U.S. has worked out a deal with the Turks for joint security patrols to ensure Turkey’s security. Yes, it is Turkish “security” that Erdogan has been using as his pretext for gobbling up Syrian territories for his imaginary neo-Ottoman Empire. This agreement is supposed to keep Erdogan on the west side of the Euphrates and out of the Kurd’s Hasaka province. Don’t hold your breath.
Here is why I don’t think that talks and “agreements” will keep the Turks out:
It is not just territory that Erdogan wants. Hasaka province boasts Syria’s richest agricultural region and most of its oil fields, not to mentioned more Kurds, Christians, and Yazidis to exterminate. But the real prize are the hundreds and probably thousands of ISIS fighters that the Kurds are holding prisoner (because their home countries don’t want them back). Erdogan wants to liberate these fighters so he can use them as spearheads for his additional conquest.
Why not? That is exactly what he did when he took the Afrin province. The so-called Syrian Free Army he used was composed of left-over ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Muslim Brotherhood fighters. They were his shock troops. He sent them into the Kurdish towns in Afrin region to exterminate the “undesirables” then had his regular Turkish forces enter later to “restore order” and convince the Americans that they are the “good guys.”
Getting their hands on a large, new, crop of jihadis would be a huge boon to Erdogan’s grandiose plans for conquest.
The only thing that can keep Turkey out of any more parts of Syria is a massive airlift of American forces into the region now. Talking and diplomacy will only be used by Erdogan to better position his forces for a blitzkrieg while we are asleep at the switch.
This situation is so like Hitler and Czechoslovakia.
Barry Webb had a 25-year career as an NSA Arabist, holds two MA degrees in related subject matter, and is the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are Losing the War on Terror. His website is: www.barrywebbauthor.com. He is currently a senior fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform www.intelreform.org