Erdogan Promised Trump Turks Won’t Slaughter Kurds; Proposes New “Stabilization Force”
Speaking to CNBC on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reassure the public that Turkey’s President Erdogan has made a personal commitment to President Trump that the Turks won’t slaughter the Kurds as US forces draw down in Syria.
Asked about Erdogan’s trustworthiness not to turn on the US-backed Kurds in Syria, Pompeo made this dubious point: “Erdogan made a commitment to President Trump… that the Turks would continue to the counter ISIS campaign after our departure, and that the Turks would ensure that the folks that we’d fought with — that assisted us in the counter ISIS campaign — would be protected,” according to CNBC. Pompeo explained further that John Bolton is going to speak with Turkey during his visit there on how to put that promise into operation.
If having to elicit simple assurances that Erdogan — who was years ago definitively established as among state sponsors of ISIS in order slaughter the Kurds and attempt regime change in Damascus — will obey the United States and refrain from slaughtering the Kurds isn’t absurd enough, The New York Times also on Monday gave Erdogan lengthy editorial space to assure the world that “Turkey Has a Plan to Restore Peace in Syria” in what seems an attempt at well-timed propaganda.
Erdogan asserts, “President Trump made the right call to withdraw from Syria,” and while claiming Turkey’s top priority is to fight Islamic State terrorists, ensuring they don’t regroup, he offers as a “first step” the creation of yet another Turkish-backed rebel group to fill the so-called power vacuum left by a future US withdrawal. But first Erdogan attempts to assure, “I would like to point out that we have no argument with the Syrian Kurds.”
However, we should point out that in the lead up to and during last year’s ‘Operation Olive Branch’ to take Afrin, Erdogan openly expressed his goal of radical demographic shift in northern Syria — or what’s long been a policy of ethnic cleansing targeting the Kurds — something which has become a reality anywhere pro-Turkish rebel forces have captured Syrian Kurdish enclaves.
But Erdogan emphasizes the “diversity” of his planned for “stabilization force”:
The first step is to create a stabilization force featuring fighters from all parts of Syrian society. Only a diverse body can serve all Syrian citizens and bring law and order to various parts of the country.
This makes the next part of Erdogan’s proposed Syrian “stabilization” plan all the more laughable considering the source. He promotes Turkish-backed “popularly elected councils,” which – he promises further – can be led by Kurdish community representatives:
Ensuring adequate political representation for all communities is another priority. Under Turkey’s watch, the Syrian territories that are under the control of the Y.P.G. or the so-called Islamic State will be governed by popularly elected councils. Individuals with no links to terrorist groups will be eligible to represent their communities in local governments.
Local councils in predominantly Kurdish parts of northern Syria will largely consist of the Kurdish community’s representatives whilst ensuring that all other groups enjoy fair political representation. Turkish officials with relevant experience will advise them on municipal affairs, education, health care and emergency services.
Crucially, Erdogan’s op-ed makes no mention whatsoever of the Syrian government or of Assad.
But this is where the Syrian Kurds are actually headed: towards making a deal with Assad which would provide Syrian Army protection to Kurdish enclaves in the face of the invading Turks.
This truly local solution, fast taking shape, will occur without the United States or Turkey, and in affirmation of Syrian sovereignty.
So Erdogan’s latest NYT “plan” is but an another empty propaganda exercise meant to satisfy the dilemma Trump expressed directly last week: “We want to protect Kurds, but I don’t want to be in Syria forever. It’s sand. And it’s death,” the president said.