Reuters updated the information out earlier. John Bolton was out this morning and said the U.S. is in talks with Turkey. He understands he has a commitment from Turkey to “not to harm the Kurds who had fought with us against ISIS.” Talks are still underway. Only equipment has been moved out so far.
The U.S.-led military coalition in Syria has begun the process of withdrawing troops from Syria, a U.S. military official said Friday.
The mission the President pursued was to defeat ISIS, and he doesn’t seem willing to expand it to protect the Kurds. Such an expansion could become a never-ending pursuit as we have seen in Afghanistan. On the other hand, they allied with us to defeat ISIS. Why will anyone fight with us again if we leave them behind?
ISIS is largely defeated, and if they come back, we will as well. Our troops will be only six hours away.
More concerning is the Iranian influence in the region which we have been limiting to some extent. However, Iran and Syria are closely allied and there isn’t much that can be done to break up the relationship — it’s entrenched.
Also, remaining in Syria escalates the risk of war with Russia.
The process has started
Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the coalition fighting the Islamic State group, said the U.S. started “the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria.”
“Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troops movements,” he said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the withdrawal began Thursday night. The organization said a convoy of about ten armored vehicles, in addition to some trucks, pulled out from Syria’s northeastern town of Rmeilan into Iraq.
The Bolton efforts to protect the Kurds
The President gave John Bolton an opportunity to secure a promise from Turkey’s President for life Tayyip Erdogan to protect the Kurds. That didn’t work. Before that, Bolton announced that we would not withdraw unless Erdogan agreed to leave the Kurds alone.
Defense officials in the Pentagon told The Wall Street Journal they haven’t received any new directives, and until they do, will move forward with the original withdrawal plans.
“Nothing has changed,” an anonymous defense official said. “We don’t take orders from Bolton.”
The President also said on Sunday that nothing changed, and blamed the NY Times reporting.
The Failing New York Times has knowingly written a very inaccurate story on my intentions on Syria. No different from my original statements, 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!…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 7, 2019
American troops sent to help with the pullout are reportedly already in the region, specifically in Kuwait and the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
There are only 2200 U.S. troops in Syria. Former president Obama abandoned Syria years ago.
There is an interesting piece in The Federalist about the issue of leaving without affording protections for the Kurds. Many disagree and believe we must stay to ensure their safety and make certain ISIS can not reform.
TURKEY’S COUNTER-TERRORISM OPERATION IS AIMED AT THE KURDS
Erdogan planned the assault before the U.S. announced it would withdraw
Turkey says the YPG/PKK (Kurds) are terrorists and they planned to launch a counter-terrorism operation against them long before the U.S. announced withdrawal to pursue eliminating terrorism in the region.
The Turkish minister made it clear they will attack the Kurds whether the U.S. stays or goes.
Their movement is not related to the U.S. withdrawal from the country, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday.
“Our operation against the YPG/PKK is not related to whether the U.S. withdraws or not,” Cavusoglu told news channel NTV.
“We didn’t know that the U.S. would withdraw [from Syria]. However, whether it withdraws or not, we will do what is necessary against a terrorist organization that poses a threat to our national security,” he added.
You can believe that or not.
Turkey plans to wipe out the PKK/YPG
On Dec. 12, Erdogan announced that a Turkish operation was imminent to save the region from the terrorist PKK/PYD, also known as the PKK/YPG.
The U.S. also lists PKK/YPG as a terrorist organization.
Turkey will go ahead with its planned offensive against Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria whether or not the U.S. withdraws its troops from the country, its foreign minister said Thursday.
“If the (withdrawal) is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told local news station NTV, without elaborating on a timeline.
Most believe Erdogan has no interest in wiping out ISIS, only the Kurds.
But the question remains, how much policing can or should the U.S. do?
— The Hill (@thehill) January 11, 2019
The US withdrawal from Syria is on. That ship in the photo is heading to the Middle East to help get the troops out. “We don’t take orders from Bolton” said a Pentagon official. Good story by @nancyayoussef & @DionNissenbaum https://t.co/qdHMPnwcT1
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) January 10, 2019