JERUSALEM, Israel – President Donald Trump on Monday defended his decision to pull US troops out of northeast Syria, clearing the way for Turkey to invade and abandoning the Kurdish fighters who fought alongside US troops to defeat ISIS.
"The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home," Trump tweeted.
"WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their 'neighborhood.' They all hate ISIS, have been enemies for years. We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!" Trump continued.
His comments came hours after US troops began pulling away from their positions on the border in northeast Syria.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) October 7, 2019
Erdogan said the assault into northeast Syria was imminent.
"We have made our preparations, we have completed our operation plans, we have given the necessary orders. The decision has been made and the process has begun for the springs of peace and now opening up their path is as near as maybe today, maybe tomorrow. We will conduct this from the ground and from the air,” Erdogan boasted.
Trump's decision represents a major shift in US policy and may place Christians and Kurds there in great danger. A Turkish invasion may also altar the balance of power in the region and threaten not only an embryonic democracy in the Middle East but also the Jewish state.
The decision will allow Turkish forces to enter into the area controlled by the Self Administration of Northeast Syria (SANES). This government was formed after the Syrian Civil War and has become a democratic entity with broad representation of all its peoples along with religious freedom.
Erdogan claims the Kurdish group in northeast Syria called the YPG is a threat to Turkey, a threat he has said for months he wants to eliminate. To appease Turkey's claims the US and Turkey recently began joint patrols in the area but the Turks said that wasn't enough. So now Syria is on the verge of a Turkish invasion with unforeseen consequences to the region.
The White House’s decision is seen by some as a betrayal of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who have been the number-one ally of the US in the fight against ISIS since 2015.
In a statement, the SDF said: "This Turkish military operation in northern and eastern Syria will have a significant negative impact on our war on ISIS and will destroy everything that has been achieved from the state of stability over the past years. We in the SDF will not hesitate for a moment to defend ourselves and call upon our people of all sects, Arabs, Kurds and Syriacs, Assyrians to join forces and stand with their legitimate forces to defend our country against this Turkish aggression."
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley also condemned Trump's decision.
"We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend," Haley tweeted Monday morning.
We must always have the backs of our allies, if we expect them to have our back. The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake. #TurkeyIsNotOurFriend
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) October 7, 2019
This decision threatens this new government and up to 100,000 Christians living mostly along the Turkish border. Erdogan's also told the UN recently he wants to flood the area with up to two million Syrian refugees.
But before Erdogan invades northeast Syria, CBN News has learned it's quite possible the fledgling democratic government there will surrender to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who is allied with the Russians and Iranians. They see Assad as a lesser evil than Erdogan but this surrender would upset the fragile balance of power in a critical area of the Middle East.
CBN News previously reported that if Iran enters this area, it would help build their goal of a land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean. That would also put Iran in a stronger position on Israel’s northern border and increase the Iranian threat to Israel.
CBN News has learned the government in northeast Syria might be forced in these circumstances to release the thousands of ISIS prisoners it is now holding. They would probably escape to Iraq. That would further destabilize an Iraqi government going through its own internal crisis.