JERUSALEM, Israel - While Turkish forces and their Jihadist ally the Free Syrian Army make significant gains on the battlefield and nearly a thousand ISIS prisoners are on the loose, two significant developments will change the complexion of this several day old war. These developments have unforeseen and potentially disastrous consequences for the US and Israel.
First, Defense Secretary Mark Esper is confirming that roughly 1,000 U.S. troops will be evacuating from northern Syria after Trump’s latest policy announcement in a "deliberate withdrawal.” Apparently they will not be withdrawing completely from Syria but from the “killing zone.”
Second, as CBN News has reported on this possibility, Washington believes the Syrian Democratic Forces, (SDF) are about to conclude an agreement with the Syrian army along with Russia in order to confront the Turkish invasion.
But why would the SDF ally themselves with the Syrian regime and Russia?
For one, they want the killing to stop and see the people of Northeast Syria as fodder for the Turkish army. Without a no-fly zone which they have asked the US for, they are “sitting ducks.” They realize too they can’t stand up against the second largest army in NATO without a no-fly zone.
In addition the SDF has always seen the Assad regime as a lesser threat than Turkey. They know that while the Assad regime will discriminate against ethnic identity, the goal of Turkey is “ethnic cleansing” on a massive scale just like happened last year in Afrin.
For the Assad regime, they don’t want to see Turkey take over any more of Syrian territory since they don’t think they will ever get it back.
There’s also a sense among some that this means Iran will come out the winner. If the SDF makes a bargain with Assad, they won’t be able to keep Iran out. If the US is still in the area, it’s unlikely Iran will tolerate the US presence.
According to The Hill, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that Turkey “appears to be” committing war crimes during its invasion into northern Syria.
“It’s a very terrible situation over there, a situation caused by the Turks. Despite our opposition, they decided to make this incursion,” Esper said.
He added that officials need to "sort out" reports that Turkish forces assaulted US Special Forces in Syria.
Also, he confirmed that about 1,000 US troops would be withdrawn from northern Syria as part of a "deliberate withdrawal."
When asked if turning over operations to Turkey was “a retreat,” Esper said, “I wouldn’t characterize it that way - we did not want to put American forces in harm’s way.”
“Turkey committed this action despite our protestations, all of our warnings,” Esper added. “We are doing what’s in the interest of our servicemembers not to put them in harm’s way.”
So many see the US coming out as the loser. They see President Trump’s policy of “letting them fight it out or let them figure it out” and “getting out of endless wars” sounds simple but has profound consequences. They wonder if President Trump understands the complexity of his decisions here in the region.
For one thing, it also looks like a domino effect may already be happening. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) right next door to Northeast Syria may “flip” and align themselves with Iran now that they see the US cannot be trusted.
Finally, this new alliance between the SDF and Russia, Assad and Iran could also have ominous consequences for Israel.