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What awaits Turkey east of the Euphrates?

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22.10.2019

The US has let down the Kurds once again. This had already happened in 2017 when the Iraqi Kurdistan region held an independence referendum and soon regretted it. This time, the US has paved the way for an Turkish-led operation that will undo all the gains achieved by the Kurds in their war against ISIS in northern Syria since October 2014.

“We are withdrawing, Syria is yours” had stated President Trump in December 2018. While the statement had not been realized, the US President cleared the way through a phone call yesterday – much to the Pentagon and the Secretary of State’s surprise.

Turkish President Erdoğan had made several attempts at obtaining the US President’s green light insisted and finally reached his objective. A unilateral operation will begin – not in spite of the US but with the US’ explicit blessing. That is, if Trump doesn’t change his mind once again.

The ambiguous flexibility displayed by Astana partners Russia and Iran have made Erdoğan’s job easier. The declarations made at the last trilateral summit in Ankara on September 16 gave the impression that reservation over Turkey launching an intervention had ceased.

“The Presidents emphasized their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The leaders also rejected all attempts to ‘create new realities’ on the ground in Syria under the pretext of fighting terrorism, said the statement, likely referring to U.S. support for the terrorist YPG/PKK, ostensibly in order to fight Daesh. We re-affirm our determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries.”

When the US had a presence in the region, going east of the Euphrates river was an option that was ‘close to impossible’ for the Syrian army and its allies. For the past two years, the US had repeatedly struck the Syrian army around Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, keeping it way from the Euphrates line. The “Turkey vs US” option also appears to........

© Duvar English