The former U.S. Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk has said U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria is impulsive, with no understanding of the situation on the ground.
The U.S. president has effectively “provided a gift to Russia, Iran, and ISIS” through the move, CNBC news quoted McGurk as saying.
“The ‘United States’ is not holding any ISIS detainees,” said the former envoy in a Twitter thread. “They are all being held by the SDF, which Trump just served up to Turkey.”
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has received support from the U.S.-led international coalition against ISIS since 2014, and currently controls a significant part of northern Syria, where it also holds some 60 thousand ISIS detainees in prison camps.
Officials from the SDF have said security in said camps could falter if Turkey launches an operation into their territory, as forces will have to be diverted to defense positions.
Turkey has long been planning an incursion into northern Syria as Ankara considers the SDF and its main constituent majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group engaged in a decades-long conflict over Kurdish self-rule.
The United States and Turkey in August had come to an agreement to establish a safe zone along the Turkish border within Kurdish-held northern Syrian territory, but Turkey has since announced plans for unilateral action overexpressed dissatisfaction with the progress made.
The safe zone that Turkey proposed would “effectively extend Turkey’s border 30km into Syria,” said McGurk in the same twitter thread.
Turkey has neither the intent, desire, nor capacity to manage 60k detainees in al Hol camp, which State and DoD IGs warn is the nucleus for a resurgent ISIS. Believing otherwise is a reckless gamble with our national security. Background here https://thesoufancenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/FTF-Open-Letter.pdf …
The Turkish proposed “safe zone” would effectively extend Turkey’s border 30km into Syria, including areas of Christians, Kurds, and other vulnerable minorities. Our diplomats were working on a plan to forestall such a debacle. Where’s Pompeo?https://twitter.com/brett_mcgurk/status/1176558632697126912?s=21 …
Earlier this year in @ForeignAffairs, I noted that Erdogan’s “safe zone” is really a plan to extend Turkey’s southern border 20 miles into Syria (left). Today before the UNGA, he confirmed as much with a map (right). The territory happens to cover all the Kurdish areas of Syria.
A Syrian Kurdish official who spoke to NBC News called the Americans “traitors” and said the U.S. abandoned Syrian Kurds “to a Turkish massacre.”
Syria Kurdish official told us, reacting to Trump’s overnight decision.
“The Americans are traitors. They have abandoned us to a Turkish massacre.
We can no longer fight against isis and have to defend ourselves. This could allow isis to return to the region.”
McGurk said Trump “blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff.”