Published: Wed, December 26, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Trump's withdrawal decision may boost ties with Ankara

Trump's withdrawal decision may boost ties with Ankara

"We did it before, and we can again as long as we have logistic support from you".

Erdogan said December 21 that "this is certainly not an open-ended waiting process", referring to his decision to refrain from an attack on the YPG.

In August, Riyadh said it would contribute $100m to northeast Syria for "stabilisation projects" in areas once held by IS and now controlled by US-backed forces, but it remains unclear if Trump was referring to this assistance in his tweet.

Hours earlier Trump had tweeted that he and Erdogan "discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of USA troops from the area".

Trump's comments came days after he announced withdrawal of American troops from Syria, a decision termed by many experts and lawmakers as "rash" and "dangerous".

"After all, America is in a state of attrition, and I don't believe that it will have the financial means to upkeep the same level of military presence it has overseas for much longer.

We are done", Trump told him, CNN reported on Monday.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Isis fighters were emboldened by the news of the United States withdrawal and were fighting to retake Hajin in Deir Ezzor just days after they were driven out of the last town they held. The pocket is home to about 15,000 people, among them 2,000 IS fighters, according to USA military estimates.

This is huge given that the complete US reversal in policy comes following a phone call last week between President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wherein Erdogan is reported to have pressed the Kurdish problem and presence of USA troops.

Hours earlier, Trump had tweeted that he and Erdogan "discussed (IS), our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area".

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Beyond that, the manner in which the decision was taken and announced - and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis's resignation in response - may also give Israeli leaders pause, some analysts say.

"The execute order for Syria has been signed", a USA military spokesperson said when asked about the withdrawal order, without providing further details.

In a May 2017 Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was flanked by perhaps the two most important USA officials coordinating the fight against the Islamic State.

Reports indicate that until now, United States coalition airstrikes continue.

The fallout over McGurk's departure and the Syria withdrawal brought sharp rebukes from former officials and some conservatives.

Trump has repeatedly berated close USA friends and questioned the cost-effectiveness of NATO, the North American and European military alliance established seven decades ago as a bulwark against Moscow.

Trump has also defied pressure from United States legislators to impose tougher sanctions on Saudi Arabia over the journalist's murder by indicating that he had no intention of cancelling military contracts with the kingdom.

McGurk was briefly considered for the post of ambassador to Iraq after having served as a senior official covering Iraq and Afghanistan during President George W. Bush's administration.

"Ultimately, this [strike] severely degraded IS capabilities to maneuver and control their attack formations, but also removed several hundred IS fighters from the battlefield", the coalition said.

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